Manly continued Newcastle’s miserable start to the NRL season by inflicting a 26-10 victory at Hunter Stadium on Anzac Day.
Playing their first game in 11 days, and first in Newcastle in four years, the Sea Eagles celebrated the return of halfback Daly Cherry-Evans by pocketing two valuable competition points.
Newcastle’s sixth loss of the season, and fifth straight to Manly, was compounded by the loss of experienced playmaker Jarrod Mullen to a suspected torn hamstring in the 67th minute.
It was rough day on the injury front with Mullen joined by Peter Mata’utia (knee) for Newcastle while Brett Stewart (hamstring) and Tom Trbojevic (knee) were replaced during the match for Manly.
Though not at his best, Queensland and Australian playmaker Cherry-Evans added spark to the Sea Eagles attack and created a try for Tom Trbojevic in the 60th minute to give Manly a decisive 20-6 lead.
In a bizarre turnaround Newcastle scored from the restart, Tyler Randell crashing over to make in 20-10 after Jamie Lyon sloppily batted back a short Dane Gagai kick-off.
But any slight hopes of a comeback were put to bed when lock Jake Trbojevic scored a converted try in the 78th minute.
Manly had taken a 10-6 lead to the break when prop Brenton Lawrence crashed over to score in the final seconds of the first half.
Replays showed the ball rolled loose as Newcastle defenders tried to halt Lawrence’s progress but review official Ashley Klein could not find enough evidence to overturn referee Gavin Badger’s on-field ruling of a try.
The Knights had no such luck earlier in the half when wingers Nathan Ross and Aku Uate were both denied tries by the bunker.
Little seemed to go the way of the home side with prop Sam Mataora reported in the 65th minute for a possible crusher tackle.