A mid-table clash between the Manly Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights was the first game of Sunday’s round 8 games in the NRL. A win for either side would lift them up the table and in amongst the leaders but a loss would be a blow to their play-off aspirations.
Both sides lost last time out and were keen to get back to winning ways.
There was just one change for the Sea Eagles with Moses Suli returning to replace Brendan Elliot. The Knights brought in Bradman Best and Pasami Saulo to replace Shibasaki and Glasby.
The Sea Eagles were dealt a blow after seven minutes when skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was sin-binned for pulling back Lachlan Fitzgibbon as he chased a grubber kick. Kalyn Ponga kicked the resulting penalty goal to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.
On thirteen the Knights scored their opening four-pointer when Andrew McCulloch picked up the ball as acting half-back, dummied a pass infield and then moved to the right of his team-mate to dive over the line. Ponga added the extras, Manly paying the price for the earlier sin-binning.
Daly Cherry-Evans made quick amends for his misdemeanour when he took the ball at first receiver, dropped the shoulder, and stretched for the line to score. Reuben Garrick added the conversion to reduce the arrears to two points after twenty-two minutes.
Thirty seconds before the half time hooter Mann leapt to tap forward a Mitchell Pearce chip, regained the ball, and dived over the line to score. Ponga added the conversion for a 14-6 half time lead to the Knights.
It was a pointless opening twenty-six minutes to the second half, Cade Cust coming the closest but having a try ruled out on twenty for a knock-on. It was Cust who broke the deadlock when he took a Cherry-Evans pass to crash over under the sticks for a four-pointer. Garrick kicked the conversion and the margin was again back to two points.
As the half wore on it became clear that the Knights were just holding on, but hold on they did, as they frustrated the Sea Eagles with stoic defence and managed to secure the two-point victory.
Addin Fonua-Blake and Jake Trbojevic appeared to be sent off after the final hooter for disputing a video referee decision in the dying seconds.
It wasn’t the most skilful of games, a battle of the defences, with four tries and the main talking point being the two post-hooter sendings off. The Knights are up to fourth in the table, Manly left to lick their wounds and plan for next week without the services of Fonua-Blake and Trbojevic.
Manly Sea Eagles: Garrick (2G), Taufua, Parker, Suli, Funa, Croker, Cherry-Evans (T, SB on 7), Fonua-Blake (SO on 80), Levi, Taupau, Thompson, Sironen, Trbojevic (SO on 80). Subs: Cust (T), Gosiewski, Keppie, Paseka.
Newcastle Knights: Ponga (3G), Lee, Tuala, Best, Hunt, Mann (T), Pearce, Klemmer, McCullogh (T), Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Mata’utia, Ese’ese. Subs: Hoy, Saulo, Saifiti, Guerra.
Referee: Grant Atkins.
Ground: Lottoland, Sydney.