Parramatta forward Tony Williams went down with a suspected season-ending knee injury to dampen his club’s thrilling 24-22 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
The Eels still sit bottom of the NRL table but have now won two games on the trot, the latest coming thanks to a late converted Manu Ma’u try that decided an entertaining contest at ANZ Stadium.
But Williams’ career may be over after the ex-Manly and Canterbury star injured his knee again.
“I don’t think it’s real good,” Parramatta coach Brad Arthur said after the Tigers victory.
“He needs to have scans tomorrow but I’ve been told it’s ACL [anterior cruciate ligament].”
Williams’ hard luck came in a drama-filled Round 8 in which the likes of Issac Luke (Warriors, knee), Dylan Edwards (Panthers, shoulder), Josh Dugan (Sharks, leg), Josh McGuire (Broncos, ankle) and Tim Glasby (Storm, thumb) all sustained injuries.
Those five players will spend several weeks on the sidelines, while Manly five-eighth Lachlan Croker and South Sydney winger Richie Kennar are likely to miss the rest of the season with knee and ankle injuries respectively.
Manly is particularly depleted with injuries and forward Jack Gosiewski also broke his hand in the club’s 18-12 loss to Newcastle on Friday night.
The club’s casualty ward is overflowing with Curtis Sironen and Kelepi Tanginoa already ruled out for the season, and Brad Parker and Jorge Taufua also around a month from returning.
It means that Jackson Hastings, sensationally banished to Manly’s feeder club after coach Trent Barrett said the player has “an issue fitting in with the group”, must be recalled.
And that also ensures that the Manly circus will continue for at least another week.
In the past month alone, reports of fights between players, strip club visits and massive fines have been dished out, with captain Daly Cherry-Evans slapped with a $10,000 penalty last week.
Manly has lost its past four matches and will face the Sydney Roosters next Sunday.
The Roosters were beaten 24-8 by table-toppers St George Illawarra on Anzac Day.
North Queensland’s struggles continued with last season’s grand finalists slumping to a sixth loss from eight games this season.
Canberra proved too good for the Cowboys on Saturday evening, winning 18-8 thanks to tries from Josh Papalii, Aidan Sezer and Siliva Havili.
Co-captain Matt Scott did not mince his words afterwards, saying it was “hard to excuse the tries that were scored” by the Raiders.
“Very basic tries. And they just ran over the top of us and that’s a hard one to take. Very disappointing from the team’s point of view … they just wanted to win more than us,” he said.
The Cowboys now sit 15th, only above the Eels.
Also on Saturday, the Cronulla Sharks edged the Gold Coast Titans 10-9 with Chad Townsend the hero.
Townsend’s 78th-minute field goal won it for the Sharks after Ashley Taylor had earlier levelled the scores with an effort of his own.
Cronulla sits ninth, out of the top eight on points differential alone.
It was a big weekend for the Penrith Panthers, who moved into second despite the loss of Edwards in a 22-14 come-from-behind victory against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
That win saw Penrith leapfrog the New Zealand Warriors, who are now just one win ahead of the fourth-placed Melbourne Storm. The Storm thrashed the Warriors 50-10 on Anzac Day.
The other match in Round 8 saw the Brisbane Broncos ease the pressure on coach Wayne Bennett with an excellent 24-20 win over South Sydney.
The Broncos trailed 12-6 at the break but finished strongly as the Rabbitohs lost Kennar to injury.
“It looks pretty serious,” a disappointed coach in Anthony Seibold said afterwards.
Darius Boyd, Kodi Nikorima, Corey Oates and James Roberts all crossed for tries in Brisbane’s success.