Manly celebrate Manly's Peta Hiku's try:           NRL Rugby League, Round 20, NZ Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles at Mt Smart, Sunday July 27th 2014. Digital image by Shane Wenzlick, copyright nrlphotos.com

The Sea Eagles have taken a giant step towards claiming their first minor premiership since 1997 with a courageous 22-12 victory over the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.

The victory extends their lead at the top of the NRL ladder to four points and has them primed to take out top spot as the finals series looms.

Having won all four matches at Mt Smart Stadium this season, the Warriors struck the first blow following a mistake from Manly’s Anthony Watmough in the opening set of the match.

The home side were gifted a rare attacking set inside the opening two minutes and immediately capitalised courtesy of a barnstorming charge to the try line from their explosive centre Konrad Hurrell.

Far from the ideal start, the Sea Eagles were under the pump in the early exchanges as their opposition dominated the ruck.

The Sea Eagles struggled to get over the advantage line, but their reliable defensive structure held firm to limit the Warriors to just the one try in the first half.

Despite all their early defensive work, the Sea Eagles finally got themselves within striking range and crossed down the right edge through Peta Hiku in the 19th minute, who showed off his aquabatic skills to plant the ball down inside the corner post.

Fellow winger Cheyse Blair then put his side in front after diving over in the other corner to have the Sea Eagles leading by four at the break.

In a tightly fought second half, the first try came in the 66th minute as Hiku polished off a slick backline movement to cross for his second.

Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans sealed the victory when he sliced between defenders to put his side 16 points ahead.

The Warriors managed to score a try late courtesy of Simon Mannering, but it was little more than a consolation as the Sea Eagles proved too strong.