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In many ways the Warriors’ 29-22 win over Manly was a continuation of the late collapse against Canberra, and subpar performances combined with nervy finishes against Gold Coast and Wests Tigers in their last three outings. It was equally as stressful.

But after struggling to back up their mistakes and conceded penalties during the first half – compounded by some poor defensive efforts – to trail 22-16 at the break, the way the Warriors grafted out a 13-0 second half against a fired-up team playing for their finals lives provided the most encouraging pre-finals signs we’ve seen in some weeks. Their calm and class at both ends in the last 10 minutes was palpable.

It was miles off perfect or premiership contender-worthy and there were borderline calls that went both ways…but it’s the type of game Warriors teams of seasons past have habitually lost.

The Warriors have now won six in a row for the first time in 21 years and are just a win against the battling Dragons or Dolphins away from sealing only the third top-four finish in the club’s history.

As far as this week’s Kingz Container Crew Player Ratings go, it was something of a mixed bag: some brilliant individual showings, plenty of industriousness and grit…and the odd performance that simply can’t be replicated if the Warriors are to flourish in September.

1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD: Oustanding return with some try-saving efforts on the goal-line and in the in-goal. Absolute workhorse with 21 carries for 175 metres, plus a superb try assist for DWZ’s third and had a hand in his first. Obvious strip on Garrick could’ve been costly but made up for it with a charge-down on DCE’s field goal attempt…and was only a few degrees away from his clip of his airborne opposite number resulting in a go-ahead penalty shot from in front. 8

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: His best yet in an unbelievable season. Scintillating hat-trick with a pair of trademark diving finishes either side of an incredible solo effort in which he busted five tackles on his way to the line. On top of that, led the backline for the second week in a row with 175 metres on 15 runs – including one crucial intercept near his own line to snuff out a Manly chance in the second half – drawing penalties and sound on defence. Pretty much flawless besides a handling error. Now level at the top of the NRL tryscoring charts and two off the club record with 21 from just 16 games. 9

3 ROCCO BERRY: Got stuck this week with 10 runs for 82 metres, had a nifty tap-on try assist for Dallin’s first and was big defensively opposite some dangerous customers with some key stops among 18 tackles. A cold drop when the Warriors were hot on attack and the scores tied in the second half was the only real blip. 7

4 ADAM POMPEY: Looked dangerous on several occasions with ball in hand and finished with 87 metres from eight runs. Racked up 17 tackles but was part of an edge that was regularly found wanting in the first half. His one error was from an attempted intercept that very nearly came off. A couple of huge conversions from out wide in the second half. 7

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: Agonsingly, his only standout contribution – a bust and try assist – was vetoed by an obstruction call. Given a first-half bath as Jason Saab ran in a hat-trick: couldn’t have done much about the first, the second was marginal, but he was in no man’s land for the third. Looked out of sorts thereafter, getting bundled into touch near the Manly line, finished with three errors, and the usual powerhouse was pummelled all night by the Manly defence, making just 89 metres (36 of them kick-return, only 10 post-contact) from 13 runs. An 11-minute HIA stint was almost a merciful break. 4

6 LUKE METCALF: Caused Manly some trouble with his speed and ignited the left edge attack more than he has in recent weeks. Unlucky to have a try pulled back that he set up and scored. Targetted in defence and came up with 17 tackles, missing six on an edge that was under the pump for much of the first half. Took a bit of the kicking pressure off SJ. 6

7 SHAUN JOHNSON: Seemed shy of 100 percent fit but was yet again close to the most influential player on the park. Threw the last pass for two first-half tries, helped lay on another two thanks to his combination with CNK, and deftly opened up the hole for Niukore to power away for the go-ahead score in the 73rd minute. Then slotted a match-sealing field goal under plenty of heat, topping off a solid night with the boot where he was under more pressure than most weeks. 8.5

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE: Bookended the game with a disappointing defensive effort in Jake Arthur’s try and a straightforward drop when the Warriors had just gone up by six late that could have proved crucial, but was an utter beast again in 72 minutes between those two snafus. Trucked the ball up 24 times for a game-high 192 metres (62 post-contact). 8

9 WAYDE EGAN: Classy as per, providing excellent service, producing some incisive dummy-half runs, racking up 29 tackles and forcing a line dropout…but again failed to finish the game, helped off after 62 minutes. Not a great pass for Bunty’s first-minute drop. 7

10 BUNTY AFOA: Horror start when he coughed up the ball on the second hit-up of the match, from which Manly scored. Did his job afterwards with five hit-ups before being taken off in the 17th minute and riding the pine until fulltime. 5

11 JACKSON FORD: Typically action-packed but not quite as far onto the positive side of the ledger as usual, giving away three penalties. Some strong charges among eight runs for 61 metres but had his best moments in defence, making 34 stops characterised by trademark aggression and desperation. 6.5

12 MARATA NIUKORE: Capped a very strong game with a barnstorming 40-metre try to put the Warriors back in front with seven minutes to go. Bent the line back with 92 metres from nine runs and was excellent defensively with 27 tackles (no misses). Couldn’t contain an awkward kick-off near the sideline, eventually leading to a Sea Eagles try. 7.5

13 TOHU HARRIS: Another mighty effort from the skipper. Did it all himself to open the Warriors’ account – scoring in three consecutive games for just the second time in his NRL career – and chewed 127 metres on 16 carries plus a team-high 36 tackles and 15 passes in 71 minutes. 8

14 DYLAN WALKER: Back to normal transmission after an indifferent showing against the Tigers with season-low minutes. Played 55 minutes this week and was in the thick of it with 16 runs for 107 metres, along with 30 tackles and a fair smattering of ball-playing. 7.5

15 BAYLEY SIRONEN: Sound 28-minute contribution with 47 metres from six runs and 12 tackles. Plugged a gap and did little wrong, besides an inside-the-10 infringement. 6

16 JOSH CURRAN: Admitted this week that he is disappointed with how his season is panning out, but again Curran made a difference in limited game-time. Lifted the energy on both sides of the ball when injected eight minutes into the second half, looking dangerous of SJ’s hip, defending like a terrier and filling in at centre when Montoya was off. 6.5

21 FREDDY LUSSICK: Certainly nice to have a genuine dummy-half fill in for a hurt Egan this time, doing a slick job in 19 minutes without anything too eye-catching. 6

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