Two-try Uate denies dropping match-winner
Akuila Uate was in everything as his new club Manly ground out a tough 18-14 win against his old club Newcastle in the wet on Friday night but after the game rejected suggestions he lost control of the ball in scoring a crucial try.
Newcastle's all-time top try-scorer went top of Manly's season try-scoring tally with his eighth and ninth tries of 2017 on Friday but it was his second that sent fans into meltdown.
The ball appeared to come loose from Uate's grasp as he touched down in the 59th minute; referees boss Tony Archer has already confirmed it was an error to award the try but Uate said not only did he not lose control of that one, he deserved an earlier four-pointer which was disallowed.
"I didn't think it was a knock on," Uate said after the game.
"It looks loose but I still had my hands on the ball anyway. It was a try, I don't know what they're talking about. At the end of the day we got the two points."
Uate was denied just five minutes before that play when he collected a loose ball and grounded it in the corner because the Bunker found he had pushed Newcastle's Brendan Elliott when both went up to contest a kick.
"I knew I couldn't get to the ball so I just went up for the contest. He touched it first, I scored the try," was Uate's assessment.
There may be questions over the legitimacy of his second put-down but there are no questions Uate is having a fine season at Manly. He's busting on average four tackles per game while making 117 metres and loving footy again.
He puts it down to being happy off the field.
"I've always said if my family is happy wherever I play, it goes out on the field," he said.
"I've got three kids, my wife's settled in Manly. I wake up every morning, look at them going to school with a smile on their face and it puts a smile on my face to go to training every day.
"I'm just enjoying my footy again, new club, I have to perform every game."
That's what he's done so far and another excellent game drew praise from his coach Trent Barrett.
"I thought he was terrific – he's been good all year," Barrett said.
"He was a bit nervous before the game, it's his old club. He still loves Newcastle, he's played there his whole life; that was understandable. I'm really happy for him, he's playing very well."
Uate though rejected his coach's assessment of nerves.
"I wasn't nervous, I was looking forward to it," Uate said.
"I knew they were going to come to me but that's how it is when you play in the same team for so long and come out to a new club. Of course. But I prepared myself well this week, I knew they would be tough but I wasn't nervous at all.
"It means a lot to get a win, we needed that win no matter what. It doesn't really matter [who it was against], it was not about me and Newcastle, it's about Manly – we needed that two points before the bye."