The Roosters' unbeaten start to the season came to an end following an 18-12 loss to the Sea Eagles on Friday night in what was arguably one of the games of the season.
Neither side gave an inch in what quickly turned into a brutal contest through the middle – not helped by a downpour midway through the second half – with both sets of forwards bashing each other up before a moment of magic from Dylan Walker sealed the game for Manly.
Walker had earlier given his side a 12-6 lead but Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce stepped up in the 70th minute to fight through several defenders to level the scores.
With momentum on their side, the Roosters had a couple of chances to win it with a field goal but Pearce failed to convert either opportunity before Walker raced away at the death to seal the unlikely win.
While the missed drop goals hurt, it was their errors at the death that cruelled any hopes of victory for the Roosters.
"I thought our set from the kick-off [after the Pearce try] was quite good. I thought we did quite well there but then I think a couple of errors followed at the end of our sets," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
"It's disappointing to lose our first game, especially when it was there for the taking, but Manly played extremely well."
Roosters skipper Jake Friend could sense his side coming over the top of Manly but conceded silly errors halted their momentum.
"After that try we had that set and we had the opportunity to get in arm wrestle footy and play field position and see what came of it, but we made a few individual errors and it hurt the whole team," Friend said.
"That last little bit, in the tight games you can't switch off for a second. Manly were good and took their opportunity and got us right at the end."
As gripping as the contest was, there were plenty of errors and stoppages throughout that halted both sides' momentum in critical moments.
The stop-start nature of the match meant the Roosters couldn't unleash the full force of their attacking arsenal, but according to Friend, that's not why they lost.
"There was a lot of stop and start and there was no flowing football. It was definitely physical," he said.
"We try to keep the ball in because we like to play live-ball footy. I thought some of our scrum sets were good and we got good yards, but we just couldn't put enough sets together and that was the difference."