When Daly Cherry-Evans reflected back on last Friday’s loss to South Sydney, the inspirational Manly Warringah Sea Eagles captain could only see the positives.
The Sea Eagles were dealt a crushing blow when second-rower Karl Lawton was sent off for a dangerous throw tackle on Souths captain Cameron Murray in the ninth minute.
It made the assignment ever harder for the 12-man Sea Eagles, who were more than gallant in going down 40-22 at Central Coast Stadium.
Lawton will miss the Sea Eagles’ next four games through suspension.
“It was really tough circumstances to play under, losing someone so early in a game,’’ Cherry-Evans said.
“We’ve taken it as a real positive to show where we are at as a side, and how much we care about not just each other, but our season.
“We are hoping that when we have 13 on the field, that we can continue that same sort of intention and play that style of footy that’s really tough and gritty. We believe that can get results when there are 13 on the field, that’s for sure.
“It was a really brave effort and we took so much out of it as a side.”
The drama didn’t finish there with experienced centre Brad Parker (knee) and flying winger Jason Saab (toe) succumbing to injury. Parker will miss at least a month and Saab will be out for three to four weeks.
“Every team goes through this at some stage during the season. If you did get a choice, you would hope it’s at the start of the year and not later in the year when you need everyone on board,’’ Cherry-Evans added.
“I think we have done well to get through to the season where we are at, 4-4.
“If we can continue to gain a bit more momentum and get a few more wins, the back half of the season is where you want to make your run. We are still in a position to do that.”
Cherry-Evans has been in superb form for Manly this season with two tries, six try assists, and leads the NRL for most kicking metres (3836) and most kicks (132). He also has produced two 40/20s and one memorable 20/40 kick.
He will play his 270th NRL match this Saturday at 4 Pines Park when the Sea Eagles tackle a rejuvenated Wests Tigers team.
Manly have been boosted by the return of Dally M Medal winner Tom Trbojevic at full-back and powerful prop Josh Aloiai.
The match will also be a special moment for the Trbojevic family after Ben Trbojevic was named to start at centre alongside brothers Tom and Jake for the first time.
The Sea Eagles will also be looking to maintain their unbeaten record at 4 Pines Park this season with the club confident of the match being played in front of another big crowd after over 16,000 attended the last home gave victory over the Gold Coast Titans.
Rd 9 Telstra Premiership
Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers
4 Pines Park, Saturday, May 7
11am: Jersey Flegg Kick-off: Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers
12.40pm: NSW Cup Kick-off: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles vs Western Suburbs Magpies
3pm: NRL Kick-off: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers
Tickets available here through Ticketmaster