Wests Tigers caused a major upset which has put Manly’s Premiership chances in jeopardy after coming back to beat the Sea Eagles 30-26.
It was so very close, with Wests only snatching victory with less than 90 seconds remaining.
Manly self-destructed after being in a position to win at half-time.
It still looked like Manly would succeed when they grabbed a two-point advantage with five minutes still on the clock. Then Wests’ winger Malakai Watene-Zelezniak touched down in the right hand corner and the boil-over became obvious.
It was a wonderful winter’s afternoon for fans relaxing on ‘The Hill’ at Leichhart Oval on the day Wests announced the return for 2018 of veteran former Tigers’ legend Benji Marshall and the news that skipper Aaron Woods’ new contract with Canterbury was in doubt because of salary cap problems.
But, except for the moment when Elijah Taylor scored for the home side early in the action, Manly looked like running riot.
Two tries from Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans and another brace to Fijian Akuila Uate had the Sea Eagles seemingly sitting pretty with a 20-6 lead at the interval.
But it didn’t matter as the Tigers had the better of the second half scoring four tries to one.
Tigers: 1 James Tedesco; 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malaki Watene-Zelezniak; 6 Tui Lolohea, 7 Luke Brooks; 8 Aaron Woods (c), 9 Matt McIlwrick, 10 Tim Grant, 16 Michael Chee-Kam, 12 Elijah Taylor 13 Matt Eisenhuth. Subs: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Sauaso Sue, 17 Jack Littlejohn, 18 Josh Aloiai.
Tries: Taylor, Naiqama, Lolohea, Sue, Watene-Zelezniak; Goals: Lolohea 5
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic; 2 Matt Wright, 3 Dylan Walker, 4 Brad Parker, 5 Akuila Uate; 6 Blake Green, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c); 8 Brenton Lawrence, 9 Api Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Frank Winterstein, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic. Subs: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Lloyd Perrett, 16 Darcy Lussick, 17 Addin Fonua-Blake.
Tries: Cherry-Evans 2, Uate 2, Perrett; Goals: Wright 3
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches will feature in Monday’s issue of League Express, available in the shops and online from Sunday evening.