NRL: Johnathan Thurston has been up to his old tricks again reminding Nathan Hindmarsh about how he never won a premiership.
THE Cowboys have done just enough to pull the game out of the fire, winning 30-26 after a plucky second half comeback from Manly threatened to cause a boilover.
In the end it was only Johnathan Thurston’s perfect kicking that proved the difference, with Jamie Lyon and Dylan Walker missing a goal each in the four-point loss.
And when the Sea Eagles do their review of the game, they’ll look back at it as one that got away after two tries to big man Addin Fonua-Blake and one to Siosaia Vave helped them hit the lead for the first time with less than 15 minutes to go.
NRL: Johnathan Thurston wrap around cuts Manly right open.
Rather than the Cowboys working magic to snatch the victory it was costly errors from Manly that changed the momentum — first a knock on from Tom Trbojevic that gifted the home side excellent field position, then a slip from Jamie Lyon in the defensive line.
The Cowboys scored off the back of both and despite a superb long-range try finished by Lewis Brown off a Daly Cherry-Evans kick, Manly could not find the killer blow.
NRL: Daly Cherry-Evans scores a runaway try off great support play.
Jason Taumalolo. Arguably the best forward in the competition, Taumalolo showed again what makes him so hard to handle, scoring two tries that exhibited his speed, footwork and power.
The Kiwi lock also ran for more than 200 metres to be the dominant player on the field, on a night when the Cowboys badly needed one of their superstars to be at their best.
Jamie Lyon. This is a harsh call because the return of the skipper from a hamstring injury seemed to lift the side and give the Sea Eagles a sense of calm and control.
However, it was Lyon’s untimely slip in the defensive line to open up a gaping hole when it was a two-point game late on was ultimately the error that cost his side the two competition points that are desperately needed.
NRL: Manly champions Jamie Lyon and Brett Stewart make costly errors as Jason Taumalolo bursts through to score.
The Cowboys looked set to run away with it after taking a 14-point lead into the break.
The Sea Eagles needed to draw first blood in the second half and it was big prop Vave who put his hand up and said “follow me”.
Vave has been one of Manly’s best all year and his tough running was rewarded early in the second half when he busted through a hole to score the try that showed the Sea Eagles had no intention of going away on a hot Townsville night.
WHAT WE LEARNED
When the Sea Eagles are somewhere close to full strength they have the ability to score points and compete, even with the best sides in the competition.
Manly have struggled this season, and sit third bottom on the ladder but it has to be remembered that they’ve had huge injury issues, with a casualty ward among the deepest in the NRL.
Cherry-Evans was impressive in patches on return and if he can string some games together, the Sea Eagles might be in for a strong finish to the season.
Re-live the action in the blog below!