Manly Sea Eagles 12-14 Newcastle Knights: Late controversy as Knights edge thriller
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Kurt Mann of the Knights celebrates after scoring a try during the round eight NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Newcastle Knights at Lottoland on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The Newcastle Knights bounced back from last weeks defeat to the Cowboys with a controversial victory over the Manly Sea Eagles.

They took a 14-8 lead into the sheds and whilst they didn't add to their tally in the second half, a huge defensive effort was enough to pick up the two points - only their third win in Sydney since the turn of the Millenium.

It was in a controversial fashion though, as the Knights escaped without punishment on the final play of the match despite what appeared to be a clear infringement from Bradman Best.

Story of the match

The Knights started the quicker of the two sides and took the lead via the boot of Kalyn Ponga after the hosts had been penalised when Daly Cherry-Evans was adjudged to have held back Bradman Best as he attempted to get on the end of Mitchell Pierce's grubber. Cherry-Evans was sent for ten minutes in the bin for the professional foul as the Knights opted for the two to take an early lead.

The Knights continued to mount the pressure on the 12-man Manly line and quickly turned those two points into eight when they capitalised on an error at the scrum from the hosts, with Andrew McCullough burrowing under the sticks from dummy half to grab the opening try of the game. Ponga added the extras from bang in front.

Credit Manly though, who stuck it out for the remaining five minutes of Cherry-Evans time on the sidelines and upon his return, they grabbed their opener through the man himself. The Sea Eagles halfback stepping inside Daniel Saifiti before crashing over left of the upright. Reuben Garrick turning the four into six.

The Sea Eagles were in the ascendancy but, with the half-time hooter beckoning, it was the Knights who extended their lead. A set-restart on the Sea Eagles 40 gave the Knights a final set with 60 seconds left on the clock and they took full advantage as Kurt Mann leapt above Cherry-Evans to get on the end of Pierce's bomb and touch down under the sticks. The Knights lead by eight at the half.

It was one-way traffic for much of the second 40 as the Sea Eagles pushed for a route back into the game. They thought they had got exactly that when Cade Cust capitalised on what looked to be an error by Kalyn Ponga as he challenged Brad Parker for the high ball. However, the Bunker ruled that Parker had touched the ball before the Knights fullback and ruled a knock-on as the Knights survived.

It wasn't for long though as six minutes later Cust did get over to reduce the deficit. Again Cherry-Evans was at the heart of the attack, playing a perfectly timed flat pass to the onrushing hooker who crashed over under the sticks. Garrick made it a two-point ball game with just over 10 minutes to go.

Two minutes later and it looked as though Manly had taken the lead for the first time in the match. Cherry-Evans capitalising on a mistake by Ponga under the high ball but once again, the Bunker spotted a knock-on by the hosts in the build up as the Knights narrow lead remained in tact.

With 60 seconds on the clock and 80 metres to find, it looked as though the Knights win was secure however there proved to be big controversy still to come. The Sea Eagles broke down the right flank through Tevita Funa, who looked to be taken out by Bradman Best as he stuck a last-ditch grubber kick towards the line.  

Stand-in fullback Tex Hoy grounded the ball in the in-goal to prevent the try but the referee sent it up to the Bunker to check for possible infringement in the build-up. Despite it looking a nailed-on penalty, the Bunker saw no reason to award the hosts a penalty, leaving the Sea Eagles players up in arms as the referee blew for full-time.

Jake Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake were both sent off after the fulltime whistle for dissent as they protested the call.

 

What's next for both sides?

 

The Sea Eagles will be hoping to stop the rot when they take on the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round Nine.

Meanwhile, there is another top-of-the-table clash for the Knights as they take on the table-topping Parramatta Eels.

 

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