Daly Cherry-Evans has responded to his State of Origin axing by playing a key role as Manly lifted themselves off the bottom of the NRL table in a 28-16 win over Cronulla.
Dropped by Queensland for Wednesday’s Origin series decider, halfback Cherry-Evans scored Sunday’s match-sealing try and also provided valuable support as veteran fullback Brett Stewart spearheaded the Brookvale Oval victory by setting up three four-pointers.
The Manly left side ran riot, running in four of the Sea Eagles’ five tries with winger Jorge Taufua picking up a hat-trick.
With his side leading 16-4 midway through the second half, Cherry-Evans soccered the ball through to give his side field position before busting through a hole a few plays later to score and kill off Cronulla’s hopes.
His halves partner Kieran Foran, fresh off confirming he will join Parramatta next year, was solid, setting up Taufua’s second try with a kick.
The Sea Eagles will end the round ahead of Newcastle on for-and-against. They also leapfrogged the Wests Tigers, who play Parramatta on Monday night.
However they still need to win seven of their final nine matches to make the finals.
Missing captain Paul Gallen and suspended hooker Michael Ennis to NSW Origin duty, the Sharks were undisciplined as their three-game winning streak was halted.
Despite dominating the first half, Manly only led 10-4 at halftime after Cronulla winger Sosaia Feki went over in the corner just before the break following a double to Taufua.
However the Sea Eagles powered away after halftime, with their left side striking just five minutes after the break when Stewart put in a neat kick for Taufua who offloaded for Steve Matai to score.
NSW Origin discard Andrew Fifita crossed for two tries for the Sharks late in the game, however it was of little consequence.