A gutsy, injury-hit Manly have bounced back from their worst ever Brookvale capitulation with a 14-12 win over South Sydney in Gosford on Friday.
Six days after they surrendered their biggest ever lead at their spiritual home to Melbourne, Manly showed they will again be a force in 2014 with the narrow win over round one’s most impressive side.
A 76th-minute Jamie Lyon penalty goal was the difference between the two sides after David Tyrrell was pinned for slowing the play the ball from about 30m out adjacent to the posts.
Souths had jumped ahead 12-6 after 55 minutes before 15,120 fans.
But Jamie Buhrer, filling in for Glenn Stewart, who was a late omission with a groin problem, capped off a great effort when he broke Souths’ line in the 64th minute and offloaded to Daly Cherry-Evans who raced away under the posts for the converted try to tie the scores up at 12-12.
With Manly also missing Brett Stewart (hamstring) and Jorge Taufua (shoulder) Souths looked like they were going to run away with the contest when Beau Champion crashed over in the 51st minute off a Greg Inglis pass to go ahead for the first time in the match, 10-6 after Reynolds’ conversion.
Reynolds added another penalty goal four minutes later to stretch the lead to 12-6.
A torrid forward battle then ensued with the game picking up noticeably in standard, as the Burgess brothers Sam and George traded hits with Manly prop Jason King.
The first half was a low-scoring error-strewn affair in humid conditions.
Manly’s left winger Cheyse Blair scored the opening try in the seventh minute after Peta Hiku got an offload away to Steve Matai close to the line, who passed the ball on.
King made his long-awaited comeback in the 20th minute just before a Cherry-Evans try was disallowed after Jamie Lyon knocked on in the lead-up.
Greg Inglis saved what looked a certain Matai try in the 30th minute when he pushed the Manly centre back from the Souths’ tryline.
A Lyon penalty goal pushed Manly ahead 6-0 in the 34th minute.
Anthony Watmough was put on report in the 36th minute for a swinging arm on Joe Picker before Souths controversially opened their account in the next set of six.
Watmough tapped down a ball from Issac Luke at dummy half for Sam Burgess to pick it up and score.
Manly claimed Luke knocked on but video referees Bernard Sutton and Luke Patten gave the green light.
Reynolds hit the post with the conversion and Manly went to the break leading 6-4.