Car crash can't stop NYC Sea Eagles
Manly's shock 34-18 win over the Dragons in the Holden Cup preliminary final wasn't the biggest story to come out of the Allianz Stadium double-header with Sea Eagles skipper Manase Fainu revealing he and three teammates had been involved in a car accident on the way to the game that almost saw them miss kick-off.
Travelling to Moore Park from Sydney's western suburbs, Fainu, Tevita Funa, Semisi Kioa and Haumole Olakau'atu were rear-ended in the M5 tunnel as they made their way to the ground.
"I was coming from out west. We were staying in Guildford and we travelled to the game. We were in the M5 tunnel and someone came from behind trying to merge and they hit us," a surprisingly calm Fainu said after the game.
"Tevita Funa was driving. I think someone was tailgating us from behind. We braked quick because we were going to get in an accident too and then someone hit us from behind."
After they established that no one was injured, the players and the other driver exchanged details before the reality of the situation dawned on the Manly boys.
Needing to get to Allianz Stadium for their grand final qualifier, the players called the father of one of their teammates to come pick them up. After a 20 minute wait, they hopped in the car – leaving the damaged vehicle behind – and made their way to Moore Park where their teammates had delayed the warm-up to wait for them.
"The car just stayed there," Fainu revealed.
"We didn't stay in traffic; we went the back way and were really trying to get to our game. Everyone was stressed.
"Everyone was already changed so we had to whip up, get strapped and walked over to the warm-up."
What made the ordeal even more remarkable was the fact Olakau'atu score a hat-trick while Funa supported his lock forward with five goals and a stunning try assist.
The result has them one win away from becoming the first team since the 2014 Warriors to win the NYC from eighth spot, and the contributions of the foursome weren't lost on halfback Cade Cust who played a starring role with two tries and a couple of assists.
"They can overcome anything," he said of his teammates.
"They knew what they had to do; they got here and played footy and we won."