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Match Report - Round 25 2002

Eagles exact revenge
By DEAN RITCHIE -, 2 Sep '02

EAGLES coach Peter Sharp has posted a sign on his office door which is a horrifying reminder of his darkest day.

It was on April 13 this year at Ericsson Stadium when Sharp's Eagles were battered and embarrassed 68-10 by the New Zealand Warriors.

The next day Sharp pinned up a handwritten sign which read: 68-10 - NEVER AGAIN.

And it certainly won't happen again based on yesterday's courageous win over the Warriors in the return match at Brookvale Oval.

After yesterday's game, Sharp revealed that first round humiliation was the motivating factor behind yesterday's victory, which all but seals a place in the finals for the over-achieving Eagles.

"It was a giant step - we've certainly come a long way since that 68-10 loss," Sharp said.

"That game was certainly brought up a few times during the week and I'm just really proud of the boys how we've turned things around."

Told his side, which many backed at $3.20 to win this season's wooden spoon, was now on the verge of competing in the finals, Sharp said: "It has been an enormous achievement.

"But this is also about next year and the year after because we want to rebuild this club to where we once were."

It was a gruelling and tenacious arm wrestle at Brookvale yesterday with both sides scoring three tries.

The Warriors, who were chasing the minor premiership, led 10-6 at half time but the Eagles inspirational captain, Steve Menzies, scored five minutes into the second half to give his side a lead they did not relinquish.

The home side failed with several chances to seal the match before replacement hooker Shayne Dunley raced over from dummy half to clinch the match.

The Warriors scored through prop Mark Tookey with three minutes remaining but the Eagles defence held tight in the gripping final few moments to record their 10th win of the season.

A victory over Penrith next Sunday at Brookvale Oval will guarantee the Eagles a finals position, but the club may still even reach the playoffs with a loss depending on other results.

Dunley changed the pace of the game around the ruck area while young prop Jason King gave a ferocious performance for a player most certainly headed for representative honours.

"We said we needed to win today after they touched us up in the first round," Menzies said.

"We have a belief in ourselves and if we can get the two points next weekend we're in the finals."

Dunley added: "It was certainly a big turnaround from when we last played them.

"A lot of people didn't expect us to win today but we knew if we could stick with them until half time we were a big chance of winning."

The Warriors yesterday looked a team which is tiring after such a gruelling season.

Coach Daniel Anderson said he would rest several key players, including hooker PJ Marsh for next weekend's match at Ericsson against the West Tigers.

Although the Warriors look out of form going into the finals, most agree the New Zealand team is certainly capable of success in the big games.

"We made some errors and couldn't get any momentum," Anderson said.

"Our confidence is down and sometimes today we played selfish football whereas the games we have won this year have been as a team.

"I am concerned but don't want to over react - we still have a home semi final and at the moment we're preparing for the playoffs which mean some of my boys might have a rest next weekend."

Warriors halfback and captain Stacey Jones added: "It is disappointing that we've now had two losses in a row but we're not getting down in the dumps about it."

Eagles: 18
Tries: Hopoate, Menzies, Dunley.
Goals: Ferris 3
Warriors: 16
Tries: Guttenbeil, Murphy, Tookey.
Goals: Jones 2

Referee: Tim Mander

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