Manly's season of woe hit a fresh low on Saturday in a 34-14 thrashing by the New Zealand Warriors which left key man Apisai Koroisau facing an extended stint on the sideline with a foot injury.
Koroisau was forced from the field after just 15 minutes which forced coach Trent Barrett to shift former winger Matthew Wright to hooker and the Warriors took full advantage in Christchurch with the league's leading try scorer David Fusitu'a scoring a second-half hat-trick and Shaun Johnson pulling the strings in his 150th NRL match.
Big win: Tohu Harris runs the ball on Saturday.
Fusitu'a's third hat-trick came in the space of nine second-half minutes and extended his tally to 15 tries from 13 matches this season to keep his side in the top four, while the Sea Eagles slumped to a third-straight loss.
Sea Eagles medical staff were hopeful Koroisau avoided a lisfranc injury to his right foot which could threaten to end his season, although at the very least he appears to have suffered a fracture.
"It's not looking great, it's possibly a broken foot or a Lisfranc injury, I'm hoping it's not the latter but not looking real good," Barrett said.
"He's one of our best players. Not only from an attacking point of view but defensively with his line speed.
"He holds the middle of our ruck together pretty well. Matty Wright to be able to play 65 minutes at hooker did a really good job for us but we certainly missed Api."
Manly was already down a man after Barrett dropped Moses Suli in the lead up for disciplinary reasons – the youngster lost his passport during the week which meant he joined the squad in New Zealand about three days late.
"It's a call that I had to make, Moses isn't going to improve if we don't make those calls on him," Barrett said.
"I would've loved him to play tonight because he's a very good player but I want him to be a 10-year first grader and if I let him get away with things like that, he's not going to learn anything. It hurt him a lot but it hurt the team as well and he understands that."
The Warriors weren't at full strength either, missing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck with an ankle injury, and it was Manly who started best in the rare Christchurch NRL fixture with Koroisau burrowing over from close range to open the scoring.
Barrett's side looked in control for the first 20 minutes, before the dangerous Warriors found their groove.
They came to life in the second half as Fusitu'a ran riot – his opening try one of the best all season.
Issac Luke scooted out of dummy half from inside his own terrritory slicing through the Sea Eagles' tired ruck defence, then found a flying Johnson who broke through and headed for the corner post before turning it inside to Fusitu'a.
"Just fundamental mistakes and concentration lapses at crucial times hurt us in the end, and they played well," Barrett said.
"If we were getting beaten on effort, you've got huge issues but we're not. We're getting beaten on the back of a couple of poor decisions.
"At 12-8 we're looking okay but it just compounded in the second half.
"Isaac Luke tore us to pieces in the middle of the ruck. Their back five were good and Johnson was pretty handy as well, they've got a lot of good players and they're in the four for a reason.
"We've just got to keep working hard and work out why that we are coming up with a few of the decisions that we are at times."
Jake and Tom Trbojevic both backed up three days after playing their roles in the Blues' win against Queensland in the State Of Origin series opener, but were unable to reverse Manly's fortunes.
"It wasn't too bad, we've got really good recovery staff at Manly, did a lot of recovery and me and my brother were good to go," Jake said.
"It's pretty frustrating, disappointing game. We started really well it's just our own errors probably cost us.
"We'll keep building on it there were some positive signs there."
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