He’s not always the happiest camper but even Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey cracked a smile following yesterday’s crucial one-point win over Penrith at Brookvale Oval.
With one hand on the minor premiership, Toovey is on the verge of achieving something no Manly coach has been able to accomplish in 17 years.
It’s hard to believe as Manly prepare for their tenth straight finals series, the team from the Peninsula have failed to finish first since last doing so in 1997.
Toovey and his men will travel to Townsville this Saturday in a bid to secure the J.J. Giltinan Shield, having kept the vision alive after Sunday’s victory over Penrith.
It’s a simple equation for the Sea Eagles. Defeat the in-form Cowboys and the No.1 mantle is theirs. Lose and their grip on the minor premiership will slip.
A relieved Toovey last night conceded his side was lucky to escape with victory against the Panthers after finding themselves 16-points down mid-way through the second half.
“Sometimes you need a bit of luck and I thought we had a bit of luck today,” Toovey said.
“I thought we were a bit off in the first half in particular. They got some fairly soft tries I thought, but that happens.
"We're not playing our best football but I don't think we've lost two games in a row this year, so we've got a bit of consistency there. We just need to turn up come semi-finals time.
"We've seen a very topsy-turvy year this year in regards to teams that are meant to beat other teams and they come up with duck eggs. You need to be on your game, every game."
Manly left it utill late to defeat the men from the mountains. In Jason King’s final game at Brookvale Oval, the Sea Eagles had to wait until the final minute of play to secure an unlikely 26-25.
Trailing by seven with barely four minutes on the clock, Manly scored back-to back tries to send the home crowd into raptures.
“I’m very excited for the players and for Jason King and for Steve Matai for their special occasions,” Toovey said.
“It would have been a bit more special if they had won a bit earlier.”