A hobbling Daly Cherry-Evans showed he is set to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to NSW finally wresting back the Origin crown, if he is fit, after playing a starring role in Manly’s 32-10 win over Canterbury on Friday.
Struggling with a knee problem, Cherry-Evans engineered a dramatic Sea Eagles first half surge which set up Manly’s win before being replaced just after the break following a controversial tackle from Bulldogs forward Sam Kasiano.
The prop was put on report for diving at the legs of Cherry-Evans as he kicked the ball in the 44th minute.
The Manly playmaker, who is due to take over the Queensland No.7 role from the injured Cooper Cronk for State of Origin II on June 18, left the field and didn’t return.
He sat on the sideline with his left knee heavily iced, the same knee he injured in Origin I, and didn’t return to the game.
According to medical reports he jarred the knee in the Kasiano tackle but did no further damage.
“It took a bit of a bump, I think with a bit of recovery and a few days it will come good,” Cherry-Evans told 2GB post-game.
With NSW seeking to break Queensland’s eight-year stranglehold on Origin, after their 12-8 win in the opening game, Cherry-Evans shapes as a key player in the Maroons line-up.
With the Dogs leading 6-0 after a 17th minute Mitch Brown try, Manly scored three tries in seven minutes between the 30th and 37th minute to assume control of the round 13 contest at Brookvale Oval before 9,235 fans.
Cherry-Evans grubbered cleverly for Steve Matai to score in the 30th minute before an Anthony Watmough offload close to the posts put Jesse Sene-Lefao over for his first NRL try and gave Manly a 12-6 lead in the 34th minute.
A Cherry-Evans’ blind side raid then put Jamie Lyon in the clear, the Manly captain dished off to Peta Hiku and with the skipper again converting for an 18-6 lead at the break.
Lyon added a penalty goal before Cherry-Evans was felled.
Brett Stewart further stretched Manly’s lead when he chased down his own kick through in the 49th minute and the superstar fullback sealed the win in the 70th minute when he jumped over Dogs fullback Sam Perrett to latch onto a towering bomb.
Stewart’s second came after a 56th minute Chase Stanley try had given the visitors a whiff of hope.
Lyon limped off late with a knee injury as did Chase Stanley (knee) and Perrett (ankle).
Blues hopeful Jorge Taufua was put on report for striking Perrett with his knees in making a tackle in the 52nd minute.