The Sea Eagles have climbed back into the NRL’s top eight with a less than convincing 24-12 win over the Cowboys in Townsville on Friday night.
As they did against Penrith last week, the Cowboys took the game up to one of the competition’s heavyweights but lacked the precision to give interim coach Josh Hannay a win in his first match at the helm.
It was Manly who drew first blood through Curtis Sironen in the eighth minute after Daly Cherry-Evans had forced a couple of line dropouts with astute grubber kicks.
The game then developed into an arm wrestle before Manly’s crafty hooker Danny Levi snuck over from dummy half to stretch the lead to 12-0.
A huge defensive play by Mitchell Dunn denied Jack Gosiewski a try in the 33rd minute and in the blink of an eye the Cowboys went down the field and opened their account through aerial specialist Kyle Feldt.
Feldt’s 10th try of the season came off a pinpoint Jake Clifford kick and the home side headed to half-time well in the match at 12-6 down.
The Cowboys enjoyed plenty of possession early in the second half as they attempted to draw level but some poor last-play options cost them dearly.
Manly made them pay on the hour mark when Cherry-Evans finished off great lead-up work by Lachlan Croker and Cade Cust to score under the posts.
Feldt did a remarkable job to hold Cherry-Evans up and almost deny him the try but the Manly skipper rolled over and grounded the ball to make it 18-6 after the conversion.
With 14 minutes to play the Cowboys should have moved within six points when youngster Daejarn Asi put in a perfect grubber for Coen Hess but the back-rower made a meal of the putdown and the opportunity was lost.
On the next set it was Cust making them pay when he crossed for a four-pointer which put the game out of reach at 24-6.
Francis Molo crossed for a consolation try off a nice Josh McGuire pass with 10 minutes remaining but that’s as close as the home side would get.