Manly steal comeback win over Warriors

The Manly Sea Eagles have snatched a dramatic 22-21 golden point victory over the Warriors in Auckland to remain in control of their finals destiny heading into the last round of the regular season.

Two field goals from captain Daly Cherry-Evans, one with two minutes left in regular time and the other to win the match four minutes into golden point, sealed the stunning victory after Manly had trailed 21-14 with seven minutes remaining. 

The victory lifts the Sea Eagles to 30 competition points, keeping them clear of the chasing St George Illawarra Dragons.

Manly had hit the lead after 13 minutes and did so off the back of some brilliance from five-eighth Blake Green, who kicked his second 40/20 in the space of five minutes to secure field positioning which he then turned into a try, sending Jake Trbojevic over on an inside ball from close range. 

Matthew Wright converted and 10 minutes later stretched the lead to 8-0 with a penalty from in front of the posts. 

With the Sea Eagles looking well in control, a fumble from Tom Trbojevic gifted the Warriors a set inside the attacking 20 which they turned into a David Fusitu'a try.

The returning Shaun Johnson then forced a repeat set and laid on Fusitu'a's second with a clever grubber in behind, and all of the sudden the Warriors were back in the match despite Issac Luke being unable to convert either try.

Tied 8-8 at the turn of the half, the visitors edged ahead with a penalty four minutes into the second period and on their next use of the ball scored a brilliant try to make it 14-6, with Tom Trbojevic breaking 30 metres down field, bumping off an attempted tackle and kicking accurately across field for Dylan Walker.

The topsy-turvy nature of the encounter continued when an athletic leap from Fusitu'a saw him claim a Johnson bomb and find Blake Ayshford looming for a try, and with Luke converting scores were locked once again.

High error rates from both sides meant scoring opportunities proved hard to come by over the next 20 minutes, and it was a forward pass from the Sea Eagles which led to the Warriors getting over for a go-ahead four pointer with nine minutes to go.

A tip-on from Simon Mannering finished with Ken Maumalo going over and Johnson converting from the sideline for a 20-14 lead.

Johnson then took it out to a two-score lead with a field goal, but a dramatic finish was confirmed when Tom Trbojevic crossed under the posts with four minutes left on the clock to bring it back to 21-20.

Ata Hingano then inexplicably kicked the restart out on the full, laying the platform for Daly Cherry-Evans to square the ledger with a one-pointer of his own, only for Addin Fonua-Blake's fumble minutes later to give the Warriors an immediate chance to reply.

Johnson missed his second attempted drop goal, before Cherry Evans then did the same, leaving golden point to decide the winner.

Fusitu'a went 50 metres through the middle of the park on the home side's second set and from there they should have been able to set up for a match-winning play. Instead Maumalo tried to skin Manly out wide and got bundled into touch, and on the next set Cherry-Evans calmly stepped up to seal the game off his boot.

Manly Sea Eagles 22 (Jake Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Tom Trbojevic tries; Matthew Wright 4 goals, Daly Cherry-Evans 2 field goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 21 (David Fusitu'a 2, Blake Ayshford, Ken Maumalo tries; Issac Luke 1, Shaun Johnson 1 goal, Johnson 1 field goal) at Mount Smart Stadium. HT: 8-8. Crowd: 9,167.

 

NRL.com unofficial votes: 3 points - Blake Green; 2 points - David Fusitu'a; 1 point - Daly Cherry-Evans.