Manly Warringah Sea Eagles pulled off a stunning comeback to beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 30-26 at 4 Pines Park today in round 15 of the Jersey Flegg Cup.
The Sea Eagles showed tremendous grit and determination to fight their way back into the match after trailing 20-6 early before taking the lead for the first time with three minutes remaining.
It was an important win for the Sea Eagles under Coach Adam McEwen as it keeps their finals hopes alive with Manly just two points outside the eight now.
Promising young half-back Tylor Bunting, who played strongly for Manly in the SG Ball Cup this season, made a fine Jersey Flegg Cup debut, converting all of Manly's five tries. His goal-kicking proved the difference with Souths also crossing for five tries.
The Sea Eagles also had powerful running back-rower Samuela Fainu available for the game after arriving in NSW U19s camp ahead of Thursday's Origin match against Queensland at Leichhardt Oval.
The Rabbitohs got off to a flyer when Ryan Garner scored in the corner for a 4-0 lead after two minutes.
South Sydney dominated field possession in the opening 10 minutes off the back of some poor handling errors by Manly. The Rabbitohs were rewarded with their second try in the 14th minute through lock Tallis Duncan for a 10-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles made their most of their first real attacking opportunity when they shifted the ball right for centre Jason Smyth to step past several defenders in a strong run to score behind the posts. Bunting converted to leave Manly trailing 10-6 after 20 minutes.
South Sydney took a 16-6 lead into half-time when Duncan crashed over under the posts for his second try.
After being held up over the line, the Rabbitohs spread the ball right for winger Wesley Bruines to outsprint the cover defence to score in the corner for a 20-6 lead.
The Rabbitohs were in again minutes later when centre Leon Te Hau stepped inside to dive over behind the posts for a 26-6 lead with 23 minutes remaining.
The Sea Eagles hit back two minutes later when Bunting backed up a break down the left side by winger Sanele Aukusitino to score. Bunting converted for a 26-12 scoreline after 51 minutes.
Three minutes later, talented Manly hooker and captain Gordon Chan Kum Tong showed his skills when he stepped across field before straightening to be pulled down just short of the posts.
Chan Kum Tong was not to be denied a second time when he crossed from a scrum win to reduce the margin to eight points with 11 minutes remaining.
A great one handed offload by Fainu saw him send Chan Kum Tong over for his second try next to the posts five minutes later. Bunting converted the try for a 26-24 scoreline with five minutes remaining.
A minute later, a towering bomb by Bunting caught the Souths full-back out of position with the ball bouncing perfectly for Aukusitino to score in the corner. Bunting then swang the ball in perfectly from the sideline to give Manly a 30-26 lead with two minutes remaining.
A short kick off from Souths from the re-start saw them go on the attack before some scrambling defence and a desperate grubber kick saw the ball go dead.