The Manly Sea Eagles have beaten an injury-riddled Cowboys 30-8 at 1300SMILES Stadium. The Cowboys were unable to breach Manly's defence, which was extremely determined on their own goal line. Meanwhile the visitors ran in four tries and Dylan Walker had a perfect night with the boot, converting all four tries and three penalty goals.
Manly drew first blood in the form of a penalty goal after drawing two penalties close to the Cowboys' line early in the game.
After a pair of penalties to the Cowboys Johnathan Thurston levelled the scores with a penalty goal of his own, leaving the scores level halfway through the first half.
The penalties continued, this time against Manly for lifting a player into a dangerous position, allowing the Cowboys to march up the field.
Another penalty of the same kind was awarded to the Cowboys in their very next set, and they were rewarded when Jake Granville scooted from dummy-half to score the first try almost 30 minutes into the contest.
The Cowboys kept up the momentum with a spiral bomb off the boot of Michael Morgan causing a knock-on in Manly's red zone in the very next set. The Cowboys were unable to capitalise on the field position however after Thurston fumbled the ball as he dived for the line.
The Sea Eagles turned the game around when Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a 40/20 from deep inside his own 30 metres, and followed it up with a deft grubber for Jorge Taufua to collect and score.
After a Morgan bomb lead to another knock-on, it seemed the Cowboys would score before half-time, but Tom Trbojevic's deflection of Thurston's kick bounced cleanly into the fullback's hands, giving him a clear 90 metres to run and steal the half-time lead.
Manly opened strongly in the second half, forcing a dropout off their second set with the ball after dominating the Cowboys forwards through the middle.
Another penalty immediately after allowed the visitors to stretch their lead from six to eight.
It turned out to be a good decision, as Kyle Feldt kicked the ball dead off the kick-off, and Manly's Brenton Lawrence charged over in the following set to extend Manly's lead to 14.
Manly continued to put the pressure on, after an unforced error followed by a penalty gave them another successful penalty goal, bringing their tally to three and the score to 24-8.
The Cowboys improved their discipline towards the back-end of the game, but even with a wealth of field position and possession they were unable to breach Manly's goal-line defence.
Manly struck back after the Cowboys' ball-control lapsed once again, with Jackson Hastings running onto an inside ball to score with two minutes remaining, bringing the final score to 30-8.
The win is Manly's first of the season, and has ended North Queensland's perfect start, giving the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters the top positions on the NRL Ladder.
Sea Eagles 30 (Jorge Taufua, Tom Trbojevic, Brenton Lawrence, Jackson Hastings tries; Dylan Walker 7 goals) def. Cowboys (Jake Granville, tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals) at 1300Smiles Stadium. Half-time: 14-8. Crowd 14,763