Manly’s NRL finals hopes are still alive – and it’s all thanks to Daly Cherry-Evans’ non-preferred left foot.
Cherry-Evans nailed a clutch golden-point field goal on Saturday to lift the Sea Eagles to a 15-14 win over the Warriors in driving rain at Perth’s nib Stadium.
Back-to-back wins have improved the Eagles’ record to 6-11, lifting them to within two wins of the eighth-placed Warriors.
Cherry-Evans had the chance to win the match with just one second remaining in normal time, but he shanked his 20m drop-goal attempt with his normally reliable right foot.
However, he made no mistake with his left in the first period of extra time.
“I took a stab in the dark there and it paid off for me, luckily,” Cherry-Evans said.
“My first intention was to go off the right.
“But the way it played out, there was a lot of pressure coming from that way, so it was just easier to have a go on the left.
“There wasn’t much time left, so I knew I had to get the ball down quickly and have a shot.”
Cherry-Evans paid tribute to teammate Jake Trbojevic, who charged down Shaun Johnson’s match-winning attempt just a minute earlier.
“That’s arguably the biggest play of the game,” Cherry-Evans said.
“And, as his teammates, we mentioned that to him as soon as the goal was kicked.
“It’s the little things like that that add up in the bigger picture. It was a huge play.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said his team were gutted not to come away with the win.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” McFadden said.
“We were down 12-0 and didn’t have any possession in the first 20 minutes. And we fought our way back into the game and got ourselves into position to win it.
“It’s very disappointing to go close and not get there.”
The Warriors have lost all eight of their matches in Perth, with the latest defeat dropping them to eighth on the ladder with an 8-9 record.
Manly dominated territory during the first 20 minutes and cashed in on the early momentum.
In-form fullback Trbojevic brushed off two tackles to touch down in the third minute, and the Sea Eagles held a 12-0 lead when Jorge Taufua unleashed an impressive step and spin to score in the 14th minute.
The Warriors needed something special to claw their way back into the match and second-gamer Bunty Afoa delivered.
Afoa opened his account in the 24th minute after getting on the end of a sweeping move from the Warriors.
And he notched his double six minutes later when he managed to ground the ball despite the best efforts of Manly’s defenders underneath him.
There would be no more tries for the match, but there was plenty more drama to come.
The Warriors had the better of the second half, but their inability to make the most of their opportunities ended up costing them the game.