Warriors happily give Mannering a 300th to remember
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is pleased his side found a way to beat Canberra for injured 300-game hero Simon Mannering, while Tohu Harris rated the nail-biting 20-16 win a blessing in disguise heading into the finals.
Mannering's night was cut short by a sternum injury, but Kearney expects the warhorse to be fit for an elimination final next weekend.
Harris and Kearney admitted Mannering's milestone occasion got to the Warriors but both agree the side will be better for the experience.
"It wasn't real pretty at times but sometimes that's what you've got to do," Kearney said.
"We found a way to win, that's important. In the past we've had physical teams, I'm talking about [when] the Roosters came here, South Sydney came here, Broncos came here and sort of bullied us off the park.
"We've played against two sides [the Panthers and Raiders in the past fortnight] who are fairly big, and we ran [for] more metres than them tonight and we didn't let them do that so my point to the boys is we take confidence from that.
"We know we've got a great deal more improvement in us. A new competition starts next week and we'll be ready to go."
Kearney is confident Mannering will be good to go to regardless of who or where the Warriors play in their first finals match in seven seasons next week.
Mannering came off early in the second half after taking an early hit and struggling through much of the first half.
"He's pretty sore. He got a whack in the sternum which hurts so we'll wheel him out whenever we play next week. [We will], keep him out of contact work this week that's for sure," Kearney said.
"He was adamant he wanted to go back on [after halftime] but I could just see by his body language as soon as he went out there for the second half that he's struggling with it.
"Again, the boys, like we have at times this year, rallied around and got the job done for him which is really pleasing."
Harris too believed the occasion had got to the side but is positive they'll be better for the second half scare where Canberra had two tries denied by the Referee's Bunker.
"I think it might have come down to the occasion and what was on the line, we sorted of went away from the things that worked well for us throughout the match," Harris said.
"In saying that, I'm glad we experienced that. We're going to come across times over the coming weeks that might be similar situations and you can't freeze up against the top teams in the competition when the whole competition is on the line."
Kearney had started answering even before a reporter had finished asking how nervous the coach was in dying minutes as the Warriors struggled to slam the door on the Raiders.
"Very, very, very ... very," he said.
"I don't know if there’s a bit of tightness there which sort of took a grip of everyone in the team with six or seven minutes to go but again we managed to find a way to keep them out which was a positive. That’s an area we definitely need to improve."