The Newcastle Knights won 14-12 in a tight, gritty game with some steely defence but was marred by some last second controversy, robbing Manly the chance to tie up the game.
Both sides had a lot to prove going into the game after both having their worst performance of the season last week.
Newcastle started off the stronger of the two and applied a lot of pressure for not much result.
The pendulum finally swung their way when the trusted Mitchell Pearce and Lachlan Fitzgibbon combination clicked.
Pearce put in a deft grubber that Fitzgibbon almost scored off and on replays it was clear he was obstructed in a strong try scoring opportunity.
Daly Cherry-Evans held his arm back enough to deny him getting the ball down but as the fullback was there for Manly it was a professional foul and not a penalty try.
Knights took the safe option and opted for the 2 points.
However, they made better use of the extra man and continued their onslaught with a few repeat sets.
Eventually Andrew McCullough got his first points in Newcastle colours with a trademark dummy-half try.
Knights were up 8-0 and the sin bin was starting to take its toll on Manly.
But Cherry-Evans more than made up for his brain snap by leading Manly to their first points.
He took control of the game and when they were eventually in the red zone he ran over for a brilliant individual try.
Newcastle had one more try in them for the half and on the stroke of halftime Pearce found Mann on the end of a nice chip kick in-field and scored their second try of the day.
The Knights finished the half with a respectable 14-6 lead and in the end they defended their way to victory in the second half with no more points in their attack for the day.
As such, it was all Manly in the second half. The possession and territory was all theirs but all they could get was 1 try.
Cherry-Evans again the man who put Cade Cust through with a brilliant pass under the posts.
The Knights had a lot go against them, losing Edrick Lee to a broken forearm then Sione Mata’utia to concussion and then Ponga to concussion in the last 15 mins.
But even through all that adversity, they held strong and won 14-12.
But in the last play of the game there was controversy as Manly made a break and Tevita Funa put in a kick into the Newcastle in-goal.
On the replay, you could see he was then pushed after putting in the kick and being denied any chance of chasing after the ball.
While he wouldn’t have made much difference, it was still a penalty but the bunker didn’t see it that way, not wanting to make that call to deny Newcastle the win.
It was no try and game over, which led to a few Manly players letting the referee know their thoughts.
As a result, Addin Fonua-Blake was sent off after the siren for a few misplaced, choice words.
The better team ultimately won but nonetheless it was a controversial finish.
NRL News Player of the Game
Daniel Saifiti – 3
David Klemmer -2
Daly Cherry-Evans – 1