Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a last minute 18-14 defeat to Nth Qld Cowboys in round 12 of the Telstra premiership at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville tonight.

In their 1500th first grade premiership match since entering the competition in 1947, the Sea Eagles were clinging on to a 14-12 lead before a try to Gavin Cooper got the Cowboys home over a very gallant Manly Warringah. Sea Eagles Members and supporters should be very proud of their team’s effort tonight with several players missing through injury still.

The Cowboys opened the scoring in the third minute when prop Matthew Scott crashed his way over next to the posts for a 4-0 lead. The try came off a spilt bomb by winger Tom Trbojevic on the last tackle. Johnathan Thurston converted the try for a 6-0 lead.

Manly Warringah hit back in the 19th minute when full-back Brett Stewart slid through a gap to send winger Jorge Taufua over in the left corner. Captain Jamie Lyon failed to convert the try to leave his side trailing 6-4.

The Sea Eagles had a try disallowed in the 23rd minute when the video referee ruled Tom Trbojevic lost control of the ball in diving across the line after a long break downfield.

The Cowboys threw plenty in attack inside the final 10 before half-time but the Sea Eagles soaked up plenty of pressure on their own tryline on several occasions.

A mistake from a scrum win by the Cowboys, combined with a rare offside penalty in favour of the visitors, saw the Sea Eagles go on the attack. Half-back Kieran Foran put in a neat grubber kick to get a repeat set of six in the 35th minute but a drop ball by winger Peta Hiku released the pressure on the home side.

Manly Warringah kept attacking the right hand defence of the Cowboys and it paid off in the 39tth minute when Foran and Stewart combined to send Taufua over for his second try. Lyon failed to convert to give the Sea Eagles an 8-6 lead at half-time.

2nd Half

The Cowboys hit back in the 55th minute when Scott saw some open space in the middle from a Thurston cut out pass to score his second try. Thurston converted from in front of the posts to give Nth Qld a 12-8 lead.

A well placed crossfield kick by Lyon on the last tackle saw Tom Trbojevic leap high to catch the ball and score in the right corner for a 12-all scoreline. Lyon then converted his first goal of the night to give the Sea Eagles a 14-12 lead after 64 minutes.

Manly soaked up plenty of pressure inside the final 15 minutes and continued to play some good attacking footy.

The game went down to the wire and a try in the 79th minute to Gavin Cooper in the left corner sealed victory for the Cowboys. Thurston converted from the sideline for the 18-14 scoreline.

The loss, on the back of a heart-breaking one point defeat to Penrith in their previous game,  leaves the Sea Eagles on eight competition points. Manly Warringah will head to Brisbane next Friday night to play the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.