The Sea Eagles have roared back from 18-0 down to stun Brisbane at Central Coast Stadium with Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic starring as the Broncos collapsed to a 20-18 loss on Thursday night.
Brisbane made all the running in the first half with young gun Xavier Coates starring on the wing and the rejigged forward pack getting downfield easily.
But an obstruction run from Corey Oates when the Broncos should have gone up 24-0 allowed Manly to sneak a try in right before half-time and go in with it in the second, with their skipper pulling the strings from halfback.
Ben Te'o was introduced for the final 23 minutes in his first game since the 2014 grand final but had little impact while the Broncos halves were ineffectual as Manly stole the momentum.
Trbojevic set up two tries while Cherry-Evans scored one and controlled the second 40 superbly.
Match: Sea Eagles v Broncos
Round 5 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
When Brodie Croft sent the first kick of the game out on the full in the first minute, it seemed Brisbane could be in for another long night but a few uncharacteristic Manly mistakes kept the visitors in the hunt for points early.
Recalled winger Xavier Coates was frequently the spark and a huge aerial threat against his opposite man on debut, the smaller Tevita Funa, and a sixth-minute bat-back to Kotoni Staggs allowed the latter to kick ahead for himself and bag first points.
With Marty Taupau rubbed out for the match in just the eighth minute with a dislocated thumb, joining pre-game scratchings Jorge Taufua (quad) and Curtis Sironen (bone bruise), Manly struggled to turn the momentum.
Lodge: We shouldn't lose games like that
Brisbane went further ahead in the 16th minute when Coates again outleapt Funa to latch onto an Anthony Milford bomb.
The Broncos soaked up four back-to-back sets on their own line, and it became 18-0 when they got down the other end and Darius Boyd cashed in on some poor defence from Daly Cherry-Evans and Corey Waddell.
The veteran almost had a four-minute double but a would-be try was called back for obstruction from Corey Oates.
That penalty allowed Manly a morale-boosting chance before half-time, with Tom Trbojevic firing a lovely cut-out ball to send Funa over for a try on debut and an 18-4 half-time score.
Manly had two tries in seven minutes when Daly Cherry-Evans sliced over shortly after the resumption, with help from an awful defensive read from Croft.
With the momentum completely turned around, Manly made it three tries on the bounce when Boyd rushed in trying to shut down a play and gave Trbojevic a simple overlap to send Moses Suli over.
Sea Eagles surge continues with try to Suli
A silly penalty from Coates to take out a kick-chaser – one that was bizarrely challenged, with the challenge swiftly dismissed – allowed Reuben Garrick a simple two points to level up with 15 minutes to play.
Cherry-Evans sent a field goal wide that was ruled to come off Pat Carrigan, and in the next set Carrigan was penalised for a strip right as the held call came allowing Manly an easy shot at two. Neither ruling looked clear cut and either could have been challenged by Brisbane had they not frivolously wasted their only challenge earlier in the half.
They had one last shot with back-to-back sets on the Manly line in the final two minutes but a huge try-saver from Trbojevic on Coates in the corner sealed Brisbane's fate.
Manly coach Des Hasler expected Taupau to miss two weeks with a dislocation of his left thumb while Suli could also face time off with a likely compound fracture of the finger.
"We've got a couple of knocks there, Marty is possibly two weeks and Moses Suli will have an X-ray on a finger," Hasler said.
"He might be a little bit of trouble as well, we'll know after scans confirm that."
Hasler: Taupau and Suli likely to miss next week
Hasler praised the side's character to come from behind for the second week in a row and ensure they got the result this time.
"We had a build-up to this game, both sides were coming in [after a loss], it was going to be an important two points to both sides," he said.
"I'm pleased that we put up our hand and took those two points and they were pretty valuable ones, it was always going to be a difficult game.
"They probably just out-competed us a bit in a few areas in the first half … this side has some character, I said that last week and that's going to serve them well in the months ahead."