A gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles gave premiers Nth Qld Cowboys an almighty scare tonight in losing 30-26 at 1300Smiles Stadium tonight in round 16 of the Telstra Premiership.
Trailing 18-4 at half-time after the Cowboys capitalised on Manly’s mistakes to score, the Sea Eagles put on 18 unanswered points to hit the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
However the home side put on two quick tries before holding off a late rally by the Sea Eagles to claim victory.
The heartbreaking loss was Manly’s seventh consecutive defeat.
The Sea Eagles were boosted by the return from a hamstring injury of captain Jamie Lyon with half-back Daly Cherry-Evans also playing his first game in weeks after overcoming an ankle injury.
Manly started the game strongly and enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening 10 minutes but it was the Cowboys who struck first through a converted try to lock Jason Taumalolo for a 6-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles opened their account when half-back Daly Cherry-Evans raced 60 metres to score off a break by Tom Trbojevic from an offload by Jake Trbojevic. Dylan Walker failed to convert from close range for a 6-4 scoreline after 25 minutes.
The Cowboys went to a 10-4 lead when they caught the Sea Eagles short on the left side for winger Antonio Winterstein to score. Thurston converted for a 12-4 lead after 32 minutes.
It became 16-4 in the 37th minute when hooker Jake Granville scooted out from dummy half and put a grubber kick through for full-back Lachlan Coote to dive on. Thurston converted for an 18-4 lead at half-time.
The Sea Eagles got off to a perfect start to the second half when a hard running Siosia Vave crashed over under the posts from short range to score. Captain Jamie Lyon converted for an 18-10 scoreline after 46 minutes.
A powerful run by forward Addin Fonua-Blake saw him charge through hooker Jake Granville to beat three defenders to score near the posts. Lyon converted to leave the Sea Eagles trailing 18-16 aftrer 55 minutes.
Four minutes later, Fonua-Blake scored his second try when a great run and offload by prop Josh Starling saw the powerful forward run over Granville again to score under the posts for a 20-18 lead. Lyon converted from in front for a 22-18 lead to Manly after 60 minutes.
The Cowboys hit back five minutes later when prop James Tamou crossed next to the posts for a 22-all scoreline. Thurston converted to put the Cowboys back in front at 24-22 with 14 minutes remaining.
The home side caught Manly’s right edge short with Coote and Cooper finding open space to send Taumalolo over for his second try. Thurston converted for a 30-22 lead after 69 minutes.
Manly then crossed with five minutes remaining through a try to Lewis Brown off a grubber kick for a 30-26 scoreline but the Cowboys held on for victory.
The Sea Eagles play St George-Illawarra Dragons at Brookvale Oval next Monday night.