A 79th minute field goal by Daly Cherry-Evans has given the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles their first win of the Telstra Premiership in Gosford tonight.
With the scores locked at 12-all and the game seeing destined for Golden Point, Cherry-Evans stepped up to kick a 20 metre field goal to give the Sea Eagles a 13-12 win after the Warriors had a minute earlier charged down a field goal attempt by second-rower Josh Schuster.
The field goal sent Manly players, officials, and Sea Eagles supporters in the crowd of just under 5000 into jubilation after four straight losses.
Unfortunately for the Sea Eagles, the win was soured with news of a hamstring injury to full-back Dylan Walker and a foot injury to second-rower Jack Gosiewski.
The Sea Eagles are hoping to have star full-back Tom Trbojevic back from a hamstring injury for his first game of the season when Manly take on the Gold Coast Titans in Mudgee next Saturday.
In what was a tense, error-filled battle at Gosford, Manly dug deep in defence and fought back to win, despite the injury setbacks they faced. The forwards were influential, showing strength in attack along with off-loads and breaks to outplay the Warriors pack.
Manly went close to opening the scoring in the 11th minute after prop Taniela Paseka broke through three players before offloading to five-eighth Kieran Foran. Lock Jake Trbojevic dropped the ball as he attempted to burrow under the defence, scuppering the chance.
The Sea Eagles got on the board when winger Jason Saab showed his blistering speed to chase down a Cherry-Evans kick from a scrum win inside his own quarter to score next to the posts in the 27th minute. Reuben Garrick converted to take the score to 6-0.
The Warriors responded when winger Ken Maumolo dived over four minutes later. Full-back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was influential in the build-up to the try, putting back-rower Jack Murchie through a hole before he set up the winger. Saab was closing to saving the try in a smother attempt but was unfortunate not to stop it. Five-eighth Kodi Nikorima converted to level the game at 6-all.
Both sides had chances to take the lead in the final 10 minutes, but each also had a handful of errors to their name with the scores locked at 6-all at the break.
Warriors halfback Sean O’Sullivan scored six minutes after half-time after throwing a dummy. Nikorima converted for a 12-76 lead.
A successful captain’s challenge saw Manly capitalise when Schuster swooped on a drop ball from Nikorima off a Cherry-Evans grubber to score his first NRL try. Garrick converted to level the scores at 12-12 in the 60th minute.
The momentum continued to sway in favour of the Sea Eagles as a supposed Josh Aloiai knock-on was met with a captain’s challenge five minutes later, which was successful.
The Warriors had a chance to grab the lead with two minutes to play. Nikorima was forced to run the ball on the last tackle after some good pressure from Manly, and placed a grubber kick through which was defused by replacement winger Tevita Funa.
Aloiai forced an error in the middle of the field, which was consequently followed with a challenge from the Warriors. The challenge was unsuccessful, granting the Sea Eagles a set of six in their opponent’s half with just over a minute to play.
Schuster then his field-goal chance charged down by opposing forward Tohu Harris, giving Manly one more set.
With a few tackles left and the clock quickly running down, the forwards got the ball into solid field position. With seconds remaining, Cherry-Evans kicked a stunning field goal to grab the 13-12 win.