Our biggest win of the year: Mateo
Manly second-rower Feleti Mateo labelled Saturday night's 32-12 victory on the road against the Warriors as the club's best so far this season.
In a week filled with rumours of coach Geoff Toovey and several players being pushed out at the end of the season, and in a game where they had to play the final 28 minutes with no fit players left on the bench, the Sea Eagles kept their finals hopes alive with a convincing display.
"That's the biggest for the season in my eyes," Mateo told NRL.com.
"Especially with having four guys go down, it wasn't the best for us to have that sort of scenario, but to dig in like we did, it was a massive win for us.
"For us to put an 80-minute performance like that was big.
"For me it was [the biggest win], defensively 100 per cent, and I thought we were composed with the ball. Our best all round performance I thought."
It was a happy return for Mateo to Auckland, where he spent four seasons in a Warriors jersey from 2011 onwards before being released to join Manly at the end of last year.
The former Tonga and City Origin representative was heavily involved at Mount Smart Stadium, clocking up 15 carries for 126 metres and playing more minutes than usual thanks to the injury situation.
"It wasn't too bad for me, I was sitting out on the edge," he said.
"But our boys in the middle really stood up.
"With the adversity we were faced with in terms of injuries, with guys playing out of position against a good quality side like the Warriors, I thought the boys really stood up.
"It would be nice to win every one on the run home now, but we have got a big test next week against Brisbane.
"But if we keep defending like that it will be a big step for us."
After the game Toovey said his side had been "heroic" given the week they had endured and the injuries suffered throughout the game.
"It was a fantastic effort. It was a fantastic win for us, one we really needed," Toovey said.
"I thought they [the Warriors] played not to their strengths last week with a lot of errors – a bit like us really – so we knew they were going to be pumped up today.
"I was pleased with our focus and execution. [We] were determined to win."
Meanwhile Mateo singled out two-try hero Brett Stewart and wounded halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, who was in doubt right up until Friday's captain's run, for praise after the match.
"Brett has been big for us all year, he has been leading from the back with his cleaning up on defence and providing us spark on attack," Mateo said.
"I think he's a guy who probably hasn't had the praise he deserved, but tonight he showed his worth.
"As for Daly he struggled with his shoulder all week but in saying that he stood up tonight and you wouldn't have known he was injured.
"We had guys go off but also guys injured while still playing, and we just stuck together which was good."
Manly will await confirmation on how serious the injury situation is for Ligi Sao, Tom Symonds and Luke Burgess, with Burgess telling NRL.com he may have torn his ACL.
Centre Steve Matai is thought to be a chance for next week after leaving the field with concussion early in the first half.