Manly’s finals hopes take a hit following upset loss to Warriors

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Manly’s NRL finals hopes have taken a hit after falling short of completing a late comeback against the Warriors in its 26-22 loss at Brookvale Oval

In a brutal night for the Sea Eagles, they lost both Martin Taupau (concussion) and Addin Fonua-Blake (lower-leg cork) during the match.

The Sea Eagles, who sit one spot outside the top eight behind South Sydney, have now lost five of their past seven matches since Tom Trbojevic was sidelined with a hamstring injury in round six.

Trbojevic is still two weeks away from making his return, while teammate Dylan Walker is facing another five rounds on the sidelines.

In Des Hasler’s 400th match as coach, it all went wrong for the Sea Eagles in a horror 18-minute opening where they conceded three tries and lost Fonua-Blake to injury.

Daly Cherry-Evans was again strong for Manly alongside Moses Suli, but not even the Kangaroos half-back could engineer a winning result after trailing 16-0 early.

The Warriors’ win, meanwhile, marked the first time they have won back-to-back matches since last May and they sit just two wins out of the top eight.

Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita both kicked superbly close to the line, with four of their five tries coming off the pair’s boots.

Patrick Herbert bagged a double, with his first a diving effort to latch onto a Nikorima cross-field kick and score in the same motion.

But the Warriors’ win was not without its dramas.

Prop Jack Hetherington faces a lengthy stint on the sideline for a high shot that left Taupau concussed.

He was sin-binned but lucky not to be sent off, in a moment that threatened to blow the match wide open.

Manly took full advantage of the extra man, when Cade Cust put a charging Haumole Olakau’atu over from close distance with 22 minutes to play.

The margin was then down to four points with 12 minutes to play when Tevita Funa put Jorge Taufua over, after Cherry-Evans opted to run it on the last.

AAP/ABC

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