The Sea Eagles have come away with nothing to show for a courageous effort after succumbing to a resurgent Melbourne outfit in the final minutes of Saturday night’s thriller at AAMI Park.
The Sea Eagles looked destined to pull off a remarkable victory away from home as they led by nine points with eight minutes remaining.
However, when Cooper Cronk put his side back into the contest with a try eight minutes from full time, the home side had all the momentum.
Not for the first time this season, the Storm snatched victory with just minutes on the clock as debutant Kurt Mann pounced on a Cronk cross-field kick to claim a 22-19 victory.
While depleted with several key members missing with injury, the Sea Eagles were given a massive boost on the eve of kick off when Cherry-Evans was named despite talks that a calf injury would keep him out of the match.
In typical Melbourne-Manly fashion, the two sides locked horns through the middle before Manly’s no.7 helped break the deadlock with a cross-field kick that ultimately resulted in a Peta Hiku try.
The versatile back diving on the loose ball following a clever tap-back by winger David Williams to put his side in front at the half-hour mark.
However their lead would be short lived as Melbourne hit back through fullback Billy Slater following a controversial penalty given to the home side.
After blowing a penalty against Manly’s Matt Ballin for holding on to the ball carrier for too long, the Storm took to the left edge as Ryan Hoffman popped the ball out the back to Slater in support.
It appeared the two sides would head into the break all locked up at 4-all, but some smart thinking by Sea Eagles five-eighth Jack Littlejohn gave his side a one-point lead after slotting a field goal right on half time.
A fast-running Slater punished a disjointed Manly defensive line as he pierced a gap to score beside the left up right for Melbourne to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Skipper Brett Stewart then took it upon himself to put his side back in front when he burrowed under the Melbourne defence from dummy-half.
When Jamie Buhrer crossed almost untouched from the scrum play the Sea Eagles found themselves nine in front and well on their way to a memorable victory in Melbourne.
However, as they’ve done so often in the past, Melbourne managed to score two late tries in the space of six minutes to snatch victory from Manly.