Manly have escaped with a 15-14 win over Newcastle to rob the Knights of one of the great against the odds NRL victories.
Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a miraculous field goal with just three seconds left on the clock to clinch a thrilling 15-14 win over Newcastle on Monday night, robbing the gallant Knights of a famous upset at Brookvale Oval.
Leading 14-4 with just over a quarter of the match remaining, the Knights looked set to cast aside the ownership crisis gripping the club to win at fortress Brookvale for just the third time in their history and lift themselves off joint-last position on the NRL ladder.
Everything from injuries to off-field scandals have plagued the Knights this year, and their season from hell came to a head last Friday night, when Nathan Tinkler’s ownership of the club reached the point of being almost untenable.
The Knights Members Club have positioned themselves to take control of the besieged organisation and threatened legal action if Tinkler doesn’t comply.
Despite some players and staff not being paid on time last week and the sky seemingly falling around them, the Knights were poised for a memorable against-the-odds triumph.
But with the last throw of the dice before the match went to golden point, Cherry-Evans launched a 40-metre field goal to break the Knights’ hearts.
“It would have been (a great victory) but we just let it slip,” said five-eighth Jarrod Mullen.
“That (payment) wasn’t an issue, we knew we had a job to do coming here. No one expected us to win, all the odds were against us.”
Coach Wayne Bennett admitted on Sunday that his future at the club was in doubt as a result of the crisis, and post-match said he still couldn’t confirm whether key staff and players had been paid the money owed to them.
It was an important win for Manly on the eve of the State of Origin period, but Queensland utility Cherry-Evans said he was just doing what he’s paid to do for the Sea Eagles in clutch situations.
“I think any player who wears the No.7 on their back needs to take the ball in those sorts of moments so I think being the No.7 for Manly that was in my job description,” he said.
“It was a hit and hope sort of moment and fortunately for the side we got a win.”
Bennett was proud of his troops.
“It’s just our season. It’s just not happening for us,” he said.
Manly winger Jorge Taufua put a series of clangers behind him to help the Sea Eagles get back into the match with a double – to counter the two tries scored by Newcastle’s Akuila Uate – before lock Jamie Buhrer pounced on a James McManus dropped ball in the 73rd minute to deadlock the match at 14-14.
Newcastle had a golden opportunity to kick the field goal and clinch the match, but fullback Darius Boyd sent the ball to the right of the posts.
Kurt Gidley also missed a penalty goal in the 68th minute which would have put the Knights ahead 16-4.