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Match Report - Round 1 2005

Hill gives Sea Eagles a mental edge over shell-shocked Warriors

By Steve Mascord 14 Mar 2005

Warriors 20 Manly 26

After admitting he had been conned by rival centre Terry Hill, the Warriors' Clinton Toopi had a message for the 33-year-old Manly veteran last night: "He did all right today, but let's see how his body handles it over 26 rounds."

In his first NRL game for two years, former Kangaroo Hill was reported, was accused of taking a dive at a crucial stage and traded blows with Toopi as he gave the Sea Eagles sufficient mental edge for an upset 26-20 win at Ericsson Stadium.

While Manly coach Des Hasler responded tersely to a question about whether Hill had intended to get under Toopi's skin with sledging, the New Zealand international had no doubts.

"That is obviously why they purchased him; he is well known for his niggle and his tendency to get up people's noses," said Toopi, who was replaced because coach Tony Kemp said he "lost his cool". Toopi continued: "I knew before the game that he would be niggly and put on some dirty stuff, but it is something I learnt today. I went a bit wayward after the fracas, or whatever you want to call it.

"What I learnt is to concentrate on your game and don't get involved in that kind of slander."

Manly seemed as fired up an hour after the rugged, physical contest as they had been during it, with Hasler sarcastically thanking a reporter at the media conference for firing his team up with a pre-match column.

But it was a performance which should have had Manly celebrating rather than spitting chips.

They led 12-2, 16-8 and 26-14 and yet each time a determined but rusty Warriors outfit - cheered on by 13,682 fans - came back at them.

Victory was finally assured when replacement forward Anthony Watmough came up with a bomb 20 metres from his own line and passed to winger Scott Donald, who sped away for his second try with 23 minutes left. The Warriors rattled bones in defence but couldn't rattle the Eagles' cage when they had the ball.

New Warriors skipper Steve Price said: "While there is some frustration about the fact we did drop the ball, that's the only thing we did wrong."

Hasler insisted that "what happens on the field stays on the field" when asked about Toopi but admitted that, thanks to Hill, "mentally, we out-toughed them today". Kemp called Toopi "hot-headed".

Hill had the following take on the four incidents which indicated his unique style of competitiveness was still effective in 2005:

Allegedly kneeing an opponent on the ground. "There were definitely no knees," he said.

Stoushing with Toopi, who threw the first punch and was penalised. On the field, Hill taunted him by saying: "I'm too clever for you". Off it, he said: "I gave as good as I got. It was nothing personal. He's a good, young player going to win games for them."

Price, the successful Bulldogs captain who transferred to the Warriors in the off-season, accused Hill of lying on the ground near the tryline with the game in the balance, to which referee Sean Hampstead replied: "What do you want me to do, Steve? I'm not a doctor." Hill said: "It was a head clash. Look, it was a tough game of football."

Being reported on the advice of video referee Chris Ward for a high shot on Jerome Ropati less than a minute after Hill got to his feet, although the penalty was awarded two minutes later. "I was really surprised to be called out because there was no way it was high," said Hill.

"Today was a massive mental mountain to climb for us," the former South Sydney, Western Suburbs, Manly and Wests Tigers star said.

Terry Hill is back. As a result, the Sea Eagles may well be, too.

Manly Sea Eagles 26
Tries: Donald 2, Menzies, Watmough, Hopoate
Goals: Witt 3/5

New Zealand Warriors 20
Tries: Anderson, Koopu, Toopi
Goals: Jones 4/4

at Ericksson Stadium.

13 March 2005

Referee: Sean Hampstead

Crowd: 13,682.


Brett Stewart;
Scott Donald,
Terry Hill,
Paul Stephenson,
John Hopoate;
Michael Witt,
Michael Monaghan (c);
Ben Kennedy,
Sam Harris,
Steve Menzies,
Jason King,
Shane Dunley,
Brent Kite

Luke Williamson,
Anthony Watmough,
Daniel Heckenberg,
Kylie Leuluai.