Manly too strong for Warriors in NRL

Manly have produced an early second-half blitz to down the Warriors 32-12 in Auckland and keep their NRL play-off hopes alive.

The match was a battle of attrition and the Warriors’ defeat was compounded by star halfback Shaun Johnson being taken to hospital for scans.

Johnson was injured in the 25th minute scoring a typically mercurial try in which he stepped past three defenders, but his left ankle got trapped as he reached out to dot down.

The Warriors also lost second rower Bodene Thompson in the second spell.

Manly were even more badly hit.

Both centre Steve Matai and bench forward Luke Burgess went off in the opening half.

When backrowers Ligi Sao and Tom Symonds were also injured, the visitors played most of the last quarter without a bench.

Manly arrived at Mt Smart Stadium precariously placed in 13th position and after a mid-week report that the club wanted to release 14 players at the end of the season.

But they made most of the running and, in prop Jake Trbojevic, they had a player who gave them plenty of go-forward.

The loss was the second in a row for the Warriors, who are in danger of dropping out of the top eight.

With the scores tied at 6-6 at halftime, Manly then broke the game open with three tries in eight minutes.

Winger Jorge Taufua got the first by powering over.

The Warriors then failed to clean up a Daly Cherry-Evans kick and fullback Brett Stewart was on hand to dot down.

Taufua completed his brace with an athletic put-down.

Stewart got his own double with a kick-and-chase to make it 13 tries in 12 matches against the Warriors.

Substitute forward Albert Vete replied for the home side, but Manly’s Matt Ballin went over from dummy half to add the icing for visitors.

Cherry-Evans, who started after failing to finish the loss to North Queensland with a shoulder injury, also produced the kick that got his side on the board in the 10th minute.

Trbojevic was the try-scorer; the beneficiary of a superb off-load from Sao.

The Sea Eagles continued to threaten, but were pegged back when Johnson provided his costly piece of magic.

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