Manly Take NRL Grand Final Title

Glenn Stewart returned from the battle of Brookvale to lead Manly to a win in the war for the premiership, starring as the Sea Eagles hung on to down a gallant Warriors 24-10 in Sunday’s NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium.

Banned for three games after the infamous brawl with Melbourne players a month ago, Stewart needed his team-mates to get him through the finals series and repaid them with a try, superb plays for two more four-pointers and an all-round performance that is likely to have him named in the Kangaroos squad on Monday.

The Sea Eagles put aside speculation over coach Des Hasler’s big offer from Canterbury to outclass the brave Kiwi side, whose brilliant young halfback Shaun Johnson stamped himself as a future champion by rallying his side for a final fling.

It wasn’t enough though and the Sea Eagles won their eighth premiership, while the Hasler era has now delivered two titles in four seasons, adding to 2008’s victory.

Attention quickly turned to the post-match presentation where the Stewart brothers, Glenn and Brett, engaged in intense conversations with NRL boss David Gallop, who the pair have been at loggerheads with since the fullback was banned for abusing alcohol in 2009.

“He’s had a tough couple of years, so it’s fantastic,” coach Des Hasler said of Brett Stewart.

“I think he’s finally got closure, hey?

“Full credit to the Warriors, I think they did themselves proud, a great culture, a great club,” Hasler told the Nine Network.

Brett Stewart, Daly Cherry-Evans, Glenn Stewart and Jamie Lyon scored Manly’s tries, with Lyon booting three from three and departing winger Michael Robertson the final conversion.

For the Warriors, Manu Vatuvei and Elijah Taylor scored four-pointers and James Maloney kicked a goal.

“It’s been a special experience to have for our team,” Warriors captain Simon Mannering said. “It’s been an awesome week for us.

“It’s been an up and down season but it just shows what sort of people you are, how we finished the year.”

A 40th minute Cherry-Evans try delivered a devastating blow to the Warriors, who had hung tough to trail just 6-2 but were faced with a 12-2 deficit at the break.

The second half began as brutally as the first with Manly’s Steve Matai and the Warriors’ Bill Tupou leaving the field with blood streaming down their faces after a head clash.

The Warriors were far from unimpressive but their day was summed up by a blistering run from enigmatic centre Krisnan Inu, who beat four on a 40m run – before spilling the ball.

He spilled a Kieran Foran grubber moments later too but the Sea Eagles’ five-eighth’s celebrations were cut short when video referees Russell Smith and Sean Hampstead ruled he hadn’t grounded the scraps.

It didn’t take long for the party to begin, though, when Will Hopoate brilliantly flick passed for Glenn Stewart to score, the conversion making it 18-2.

The Warriors gave themselves a chance when Vatuvei capitalised on good lead-up work from Maloney and Johnson to cross out wide in the 62nd minute to make it 18-6.

They continued stirring a comeback with a 68th minute try to Taylor but Maloney’s two missed conversions were proving costly at 18-10.

A hot-potato finish from the Warriors thrilled the 81,988 fans but when Glenn Stewart sent Lyon over in the 79th minute the Sea Eagles erupted with joy.

Stewart’s first half play in the lead-up to Cherry-Evans’ try was even better – a sublime grubber for winger Robertson before the halfback scored in the next play.