After playing with a "clouded" mind for the opening four rounds, Daly Cherry-Evans was resolved to trust his instincts in a relieving win over the Warriors.
The Sea Eagles captain shook off criticism of his recent output to boot a last-second field goal and give his team a 13-12 victory – their first of the season – at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night.
But it was the halfback's gutsy 75-metre kick from a scrum to set up a first-half try for winger Jason Saab, who scorched down the sideline, that set up the result and underlined his mentality.
"I just had to back myself. You watched the first month of footy; I wasn't backing myself," the Queensland skipper said.
"I was playing sort of clouded. I just knew coming here that whatever came to me, I was going with it. As soon as I looked up [from the scrum] and saw where they [the Warriors] were positioned, I looked at [Saab] and said, 'Mate, we're kicking this, let's go'.
"And off the back of that, I can only hope it's given my teammates confidence to back themselves.
Saab turns on the turbo boost
"I was probably getting too caught up in the structure and game plans, whereas I reckon it's pretty fair to say my best footy comes off just what's in front of me, playing off-the-cuff.
"I just went, 'You know what, I know we've got the structure, I know we've got the game plan and I'll stick to that, but when the time comes I'm pulling the trigger'. I think the kick was the perfect example.
"We hadn't practised [a scrum kick] that long, if I'm honest, but I'm obviously well aware of how quick [Saab] is. Everything that was in front of me just suggested the kick was going to be a good option."
Cherry-Evans arrived at the ground determined to put on a show.
"I just knew I had to rock up and give my teammates a performance. Not for anyone else other than myself and my teammates … My whole purpose of playing good was for them," he said.
Second-rower Josh Schuster, 19, celebrated his first NRL win after five matches and claimed his maiden try after a Warriors error off a Cherry-Evans grubber to help level the scores in the 60th minute.
"I hugged Cherry straight away and told him, 'Thanks for the kick'," a "buzzing" Schuster recounted.
"We were talking about the one-percenters – in case he drops it, make sure you're there. I had to put that at the back of my mind and just do the extra one-percent and [the ball] fell into my hands."
Schuster try helps the Sea Eagles draw level
The set before Cherry-Evans slotted the field goal in the final moments, Schuster had a crack but his attempt was charged down.
"I looked at Chezza and Foz [Kieran Foran] and I told them I wanted to kick the field goal. They had belief in me," he said.
"We just thought with the way game was unfolding it could have been a nice little decoy," Cherry-Evans added.
"[But] I was only going to offer that up once!"
Match Highlights: Warriors v Sea Eagles
And so it was that Cherry-Evans, a master when it comes to the clutch, slotted his 22nd career one-pointer to get Manly home.
They lost Dylan Walker (hamstring, 4-8 weeks out) and Jack Gosiewski (foot, season potentially over) to injuries but star Tom Trbojevic (hamstring) is set to return against the Titans next week.
"He's an elite fullback in the game, so we can't wait to have him back. But, man, it's nice to just win without him," Cherry-Evans laughed.