Daly cherishes match-winning moment
Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander described it as the best field goal he'd ever seen, and man of the moment Daly Cherry-Evans admits his match-winning one-pointer against the Warriors was something he won't forget any time soon.
Manly's season appeared to be on life support when they trailed the Warriors 21-14 with five minutes remaining, but a sensational solo try from Tom Trbojevic and a Cherry-Evans field goal ensured the game would be decided in golden point, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kicking into a howling wind, the Sea Eagles skipper looked certain to be reeled in by the Warriors defence as he lined up for a field goal in the first period of extra-time, but displaying the sort of composure that belied the position he was in, Cherry-Evans calmly stepped inside the would-be tacklers and slotted the match-winning point with his non-preferred left boot to keep his side in the top eight.
It was the sort of pressure play that some halfbacks would shy away from, but not Cherry-Evans who said he relished the opportunity to be the man in the clutch moments.
"It's going to be a moment that I don't forget too quickly," he said.
"I do enjoy those moments – I do enjoy the ball coming to me when the game is on the line – so it'd be great to win games a little bit easier, but if that's the situation we're in this week, next week or the next four weeks then I'm certainly going to call for the ball and try to help this side win.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't practise that sort of stuff. I do practise it – not necessarily with the scenario we were in on the weekend – but I definitely put in a little time with that throughout the season. It's very fortunate that it paid off for me on the weekend.
"I probably have a bit of a pep in my step. Those situations when they come off are extremely good for your confidence going into the next week. I'm excited at the challenge and the opportunity that lies ahead for this side this weekend."
Halves partner Blake Green has played with some of the best in the business but even he couldn't recall a time when someone had slotted a field goal off each foot in the same game.
"One off each foot, I don't think I've seen that before. He was very calm under pressure," Green said.
"With that first one, I'm not sure how he squeezed it through to be honest [because] there wasn't much space. He was really calm and cool under pressure but that's what we've got him in the side for; that's his job and he did it really well."
Manly's halves will have to be at their best when they tackle the Panthers in a virtual elimination final on Saturday night, and if the stats are anything to go by a spot in the top eight is theirs to lose.
The Sea Eagles are ranked first in 40/20s kicked this season (7) and dropouts forced (44) and they are equal first for field goals (4) while the Panthers are yet to land a one-pointer or a 40/20 in 2017.
Penrith's strength lies in their ability to bring the ball back out of trouble, with Anthony Griffin's men averaging 194 kick-return metres per game this season (second in the NRL). They will be without fullback Dylan Edwards this weekend but still have powerhouse wingers Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at their disposal.
"I think most sides in the NRL are putting a pretty strong focus on their kicking games; a lot because the strength of a lot of the teams in the competition right now is their back five," Cherry-Evans said.
"Fullbacks and wingers these days are extremely hard to handle. This Penrith side has a very strong fullback, wingers, centres, outside backs so our kicking will be important this week and it's something that we'll continue to work on. We'll be training this week to hopefully nullify their outside backs."