Sport Rugby League Cherry-Evans pulls off miracle; Maroons get feisty

Cherry-Evans pulls off miracle; Maroons get feisty

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Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a miraculous field goal with just three seconds left on the clock to clinch a thrilling 15-14 win over Newcastle on Monday night which robbed the gallant Knights of a famous upset at Brookvale Oval.

Leading 14-4 with just over a quarter of the match remaining, the Knights looked set to cast aside the ownership crisis gripping the club to win at fortress Brookvale for just the third time in their history and lift themselves off joint-last position on the NRL ladder.

The winning kick. Photo: Getty
The winning kick. Photo: Getty

But with the last throw of the dice before the match went to golden point, Cherry-Evans launched a 40-metre field goal from out near the right-hand sideline to give the out-of-sorts Manly a valuable victory on the eve of the State of Origin period.

Newcastle players were strewn across the park as Cherry-Evans celebrated his latest moment of genius.

Newcastle players were strewn across the park as Cherry-Evans celebrated his latest moment of genius.

Manly winger Jorge Taufua put a series of clangers behind him to help the Sea Eagles get back into the match, before lock Jamie Buhrer pounced on a James McManus dropped ball in the 73rd minute to deadlock the match at 14-14.

Newcastle had a golden opportunity to kick the field goal and clinch the match, but fullback Darius Boyd sent the ball to the right of the posts.

Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen elected to pass the ball despite himself having a chance to take the shot, and Boyd wasn’t able to execute despite no defender within striking distance.

Earlier, Cherry-Evans was picked on the bench for Queensland, as coach Mal Meninga took a thinly veiled swipe at wayward NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce by claiming character also helped finalise his State of Origin game one squad.

Sydney Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra will make his Origin debut in the May 28 opener in Brisbane after replacing the injured Sam Thaiday (calf) in a 19-man squad.

Mitchell Pearce put his Origin spot in jeopardy. Photo: Getty
Mitchell Pearce put his Origin spot in jeopardy. Photo: Getty

Loyalty ensured out-of-sorts incumbent backrowers Josh Papalii and Chris McQueen kept their Maroons jerseys despite claims made by Gold Coast wrecking ball David Taylor, New Zealand Warriors’ Jacob Lillyman and Brisbane prop Josh McGuire. But in what appeared to be a shot at Pearce, Meninga said character was also high on the selection criteria.

Pearce is in danger of being dropped by NSW coach Laurie Daley after a wild night out at Kings Cross that earned a one-game ban from the Roosters.

Players in the Queensland side put the game first. They understand their responsibilities and don’t jeopardise their position.

“I am thankful that the players in the Queensland side put the game first,” Meninga said when reminded of the Pearce incident. “They understand their responsibilities and don’t jeopardise their position or their opportunity to be selected in the Queensland team.

“They know part of being picked for the Queensland team is setting the right example. I am extremely proud of who we have in our team and because of that they get selected all the time.”

Meninga admitted McGuire and Lillyman came close to cracking the squad which featured Melbourne centre Will Chambers as 18th man and Roosters rake Jake Friend as 19th. “They were mentioned at the selection table but it is about loyalty, it is about who did the job last year,” he said.

Meninga dipped his hat to Thaiday who confirmed that he had made the painful decision to pull out of contention on Monday.

“Picking up the phone to call Mal Meninga and tell him I won’t be right for Origin One was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life,” Thaiday said on the Rugby League Week website.

“But I knew deep down that the leg just wasn’t right and I would be letting down the players, the fans, big Mal and myself by attempting to play.”

Thaiday had not played since April 11 but Meninga had been keen to give him until the last minute to prove his fitness. “He made a tough but honest decision about his availability, full marks to him,” Meninga said. “When he is fit and raring to go he will come back into calculations.”

Queensland players walked out at Suncorp Stadium on Monday night alongside members of the 1980 Maroons team who played in the inaugural Origin clash at Lang Park.

For the series opener which will mark Origin game No.100, the No.11 Maroons jersey will be retired in honour of the late Arthur Beetson.

Maroons coach Mal Meninga and his State of Origin squad. Photo: Getty
Maroons coach Mal Meninga and his State of Origin squad. Photo: Getty

Queensland squad: Billy Slater, Brent Tate, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Chris McQueen, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Daly Cherry-Evans, Aidan Guerra, Ben Te’o, Josh Papalii. 18th man: Will Chambers. 19th man: Jake Friend.