A Daly Cherry-Evans field goal has given a gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles a thrilling 11-10 victory over competition leaders the Melbourne Storm in Golden Point at AAMI Park tonight.
The Sea Eagles turned in one of their best first half defensive performances to take a 10-0 lead into the break in front of a crowd of 14, 836.
The round 19 match marked the 150th NRL game for Manly prop Martin Taupau.
The Sea Eagles soaked up plenty of pressure on their tryline in the opening few minutes but it was Manly who opened the scoring through a penalty goal to winger Reuben Garrick in the 10th minute for a 2-0 lead.
Manly were denied a try next to the posts to second-rower Curtis Sironen in the 15th minute after the video referee ruled prop Addin Fonua-Blake caused an obstruction on Storm captain Cameron Smith.
A drop ball by Garrick in the 19th minute saw the Storm go on the attack inside Manly’s quarter from a scrum win but the Sea Eagles dug deep before a loose pass saw the ball go into touch.
The Sea Eagles defence was again tested strongly when the Storm had a number of repeated sets but the visitors dug deep as the home side threw plenty at them on their line.
Garrick extended the lead to 4-0 through a penalty goal in the 37th minute from next to the posts.
The Sea Eagles were rewarded for their great work in defence in the first half when second-rower Joel Thompson scored in the 38th minute after centre Brad Parker defused a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb to offload to prop Morgan Boyle who found Thompson in support to score out wide. Garrick converted the try to give Manly a 10-0 lead at half-time.
Half-time: Sea Eagles 10 Storm 0
The Storm got on the board in the 49th minute when centre Will Chambers put through a grubber kick to beat Jorge Taufua to the ball to score just before the dead ball line. Smith failed to convert the try for a 10-4 scoreline.
Melbourne drew level when Smith converted a Brandon Smith try from next to the posts after he scooted over from dummy half for a 10-all scoreline after 67 minutes.
The Sea Eagles then threw plenty in attack in the late stages of the game but missed a field goal from near in front through Cherry-Evans with four minutes remaining after the half-back kicked the ball under defensive pressure with his left foot instead of his normal right foot.
The Storm then missed a field goal opportunity a minute later through half-back Brodie Croft.
From the next set, a pass by forward Corey Wadell saw Taufua unable to control the ball 15 metres out from the Storm's line.
Smith then had a field goal attempt with 37 seconds remaining but the ball went wide of the posts. Cherry-Evans had a 50 metre shot in the final seconds but missed to send the game into golden point extra-time.
Manly kicked off in extra-time and had the first real chance in attack but Cherry-Evans was put under pressure on the last tackle with the ball going to Dylan Walker who offloaded to Curtis Sironen but his grubber kick went dead to give the Storm a seven tackle set.
Manly lock Jake Trbojevic was then put on report for a dangerous tackle on Jahrome Hughes just inside the Sea Eagles half.
From the penalty re-start, the Storm had a field goal attempt on the second tackle through Cameron Munster but the ball hit the right upright and bounced into the arms of Taufua.
Manly then had a field goal attempt through Walker but his shot too hit the upright and bounced back into a Storm defender with just over a minute left.
The Storm then put a kick through but Manly regathered before some frantic play from both sides to send the game into the second five minute period of extra-time.
The second period started with Manly receiving the ball and clearing it down field through Cherry-Evans on the last for the Storm to start their set inside their half. Croft had a long range field goal attempt but the ball went wide of the posts to give Manly the ball back with three minutes remaining.
Cherry-Evans was again pressured as he lined up for a field goal and elected to put up a bomb that was knocked on by Taufua on the Storm's quarter line.
The Storm were then called for a forward pass to give Manly a scrum feed 30 metres out with a minute to go in the game. Cherry-Evans then kicked a field goal from 25 metres out to give the Sea Eagles a 11-10 victory.