The Manly Sea Eagles have overcome an eight point deficit to defeat the North Queensland Cowboys 22-20 at 1300Smiles Stadium in Townsville.
With the Origin stars from both teams backing up, the opening ten minutes were an arm wrestle with each side trying to get into good field position to gain the ascendancy. The Cowboys drew first blood on the scoreboard with a penalty goal in the 12th minute. The visitors would be the first to cross the stripe ten minutes later, when the returning Tom Trbojevic put Curtis Sironen over right next to the uprights to give Manly a 6-2 lead. Not long after this Manly were able to score again, this time through their other second rower Joel Thompson who ran a good line off a short pass from Cade Cust to push the lead out to ten points.
However, the Cowboys were able to strike back when Kyle Feldt finished off a long pass from Michael Morgan to score their first try of the night, reducing the gap to 12-8. This try proved to be the spark the Cowboys were looking for in attack. Off the back of this they were able to score two more quick tries through Tom Opacic and Francis Molo to give themselves an unlikely 20-12 lead at the break.
Manly were the first to score after the break when Jorge Taufua crossed to cut the lead back to four points. Not long after this Jack Gosiewski was sin binned for a professional foul which forced Manly to play with 12 men for ten minutes. This didn’t slow them down however, as they were able to control possession well. They even managed to score a try a man down when the Cowboys made a meal of a Daly Cherry-Evans grubber for Cade Cust to score under the posts to give themselves the lead again.
Just as they looked to be pushing back in front, the Cowboys were reduced to 12 men with 12 minutes to go when they lost Mitchell Dunn and Jordan McClean to injury and didn’t have enough interchange to replace both. This proved to be too much of a burden for the home side, as Manly held on to secure a much needed 22-20 win on the road.
DCE brings Origin form back to Manly
Fresh off the back of leading Queensland to a win in Origin, Daly Cherry-Evans was able orchestrate a tough win on the road against a Cowboys team that are hard to beat at home. Over the period he has been out of the team, Manly have looked lost at times and have lacked the playmaking presence to put teams under pressure when the game is on the line. Tonight, the change was noticeable with him back in the side giving Manly some much needed direction in attack.
Magic Morgan stuns Sea Eagles
Much like DCE, Michael Morgan was another Origin star who brought his form from Game 1 back to the club arena. Things were looking grim for the home side who were staring down the barrel of a 12-2 halftime deficit. Morgan stepped up in the ten minutes before half time, firstly throwing a long cut-out pass for Kyle Feldt to score their first try and setting up the second with an accurate cross field kick minutes later. He was the spark for the Cowboys in attack all night. The result may have been different had the Cowboys not had another Morgan involved try overturned in the second half.
Injuries cause havoc for Cowboys
Rugby league can be a cruel game sometimes, as the Cowboys found out in the last 20 minutes of this game. Just as they looked to be mounting a comeback, young forward Mitchell Dunn went down with a bad shoulder injury, which forced coach Paul Green to use his final interchange. No more than five minutes later, prop Jordan McClean succumbed to a hamstring injury and had to come from the field. Without any subs remaining, the Cowboys played with 12 men for the final 12 minutes, putting them at a big disadvantage and ultimately leading to their demise.
Tommy Turbo’s rusty return
Tom Trbojevic made his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for eight weeks. It was obvious he hadn’t played any footy for two months, as he looked a yard of pace slower than usual and he came up with some uncharacteristic errors throughout the game that nearly cost Manly dearly. Despite this, his presence back in the side had Manly looking threatening in attack once again. The fact he made it through the game unscathed is a good sign for Manly going forward as they look to solidify their spot in the top eight in the coming weeks.
North Queensland Cowboys 20
Tries: Feldt, Opacic, Molo
Goals: Clifford 4/4
Drop Goals: N/A
Manly Sea Eagles 22
Tries: Sironen, Thompson, Taufua, Cust
Goals: Garrick 3/4
Drop Goals: N/A
Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Mitchell Dunn 4. Tom Opacic 5. Enari Tuala 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo Bench: 14. Reuben Cotter 15. Shane Wright 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 19. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 18. Jake Trbojevic Bench: 13. Jack Gosiewski 14. Manase Fainu 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka