Manly Sea Eagles have produced a late fightback with a stellar field goal from Daly Cherry-Evans to win a close contest 15-14 at Brookvale Oval tonight.
For seventy minutes it seemed the industrious effort of the Newcastle side in a trying week for the club was going to end on a bright note. They led Manly 14 points to four with a double to Akuila Uate and a runaway effort from Dane Gagai giving them the advantage. Kurt Gidley had the chance to put the Novacastrians ahead by twelve.
The hooker missed leaving the door ajar for the Sea Eagles and that is all the 2013 runners up needed. Jorge Taufua scored earlier in the night as Manly created a rare slick backline movement tonight to prove his effort down in Melbourne wasn't a once off and planted the ball inches within the touchline.
His second came from a common theme running through the entire contest - the bomb. Both backlines were under heavy bombardment in the southern end of Brookvale with Jorge Taufua spilling several from Jarrod Mullen in the first half. Akuila Uate took on that role in the second half spilling the bomb that led to both Taufua's tries.
The second of Taufua's brace though, was a spectacular effort that is becoming the norm from Jorge. The winger watched his opposite number allow the Littlejohn spiral bomb to bounce, went around his opponent to place the ball down with fingertip control. Manly despite having more dropped balls than a teenage formal were in the contest.
Daly Cherry-Evans who was buoyed by his selection on the interchange bench for Queensland for the forthcoming state of origin opening game was off colour for a majority of the contest. His passes along with the rest of the team were hitting the ground and his kicking game was finding the Knights back three on the full.
Newcastle were skillful enough to take advantage of the off colour Sea Eagles with tries either side of half-time to Akuila Uate - one from a quick play the ball from Dane Gagai and the other from an error from Taufua made it 10-nil after 52 minutes. Dane Gagai wrestled the ball free from Steve Matai who shared a running battle throughout to run away with a try and possibly the match.
The Sea Eagles though weren't going away and the two Taufua tries kept them in the contest, it would be the consistent figure of Jamie Buhrer to even the score. Littlejohn teased a bomb that forced McManus to compete with Peta Hiku for the ball, spilling it forward right into the hands of the utility forward who dived over - 14 a piece with seven minutes to play.
As is customary in tied games in the final ten minutes - the two sides both had an attempt to put themselves ahead, as Darius Boyd was the unexpected option as the custodian shanked it wide. Jack Littlejohn was wide with his effort as well, only a minute earlier and it looked destined for extra time.
Enter Daly Cherry-Evans. The halfback had an indifferent game until then - he produced a wondrous field goal from 40 metres out from a single step run up to steal a vital victory to keep them on the heels of the competition leaders Canterbury Bankstown going into a bye week. Newcastle were once again close but not close enough forced to lick their wounds once again.