Great escape: Controversy as lucky Manly bounce back
Daly Cherry-Evans hailed Manly's character.But Anthony Seibold was left to rue a "really tough" match-clinching decision against Brisbane in a heartbreaking 20-18 loss at Central Coast Stadium.
After being destroyed last week when going down 59-0 to the Sydney Roosters, Seibold's youngsters shocked the Sea Eagles when they charged to an 18-0 lead after just 30 minutes.
But like they did last week against Parramatta, Manly refused to surrender, clawing back to this time win the game on the back of a controversial late penalty that denied the Broncos one of the great rugby league turnarounds.
CHANGE OF LUCK
It was Tom Trbojevic and Cherry-Evans who inspired the comeback, with Manly scoring three tries to bring the margin back to 18-16 before two penalty shots to Reuben Garrick got them home.
It was a brave win from Des Hasler's men who played almost the entire match without Marty Taupau who suffered a suspected compound thumb fracture.
In his absence Addin Fonua-Blake had a mighty game, running for 203m after starting off the bench.
While Manly definitely deserved their first penalty shot after Xavier Coates knocked out Joel Thompson chasing a kick, the match clincher for a strip on Jake Trbojevic against Patrick Carrigan was tough.
But given what happened last week Manly got one back this time.
It was also played in front of the first crowd allowed back in rugby league with 160 Manly corporates and members in attendance and making plenty of noise.
Tom Trbojevic set up two of the tries while Cherry-Evans scored the other.
The skipper said his team needed to learn from its awful first half two weeks in a row.
"It does show a bit of character," Cherry-Evans said.
"I mean last week we still fought all the way to the end.
"In rugby league you don't get the calls sometimes.
"But as disappointing as it was, to see us in the same position and fight back again is really encouraging."
Taupau is expected to miss two matches while Moses Suli also suffered a suspected compound fracture of a finger that would most likely rule him out of the game against Canberra on Sunday week.
"REALLY TOUGH CALL"
Last week the Sea Eagles were robbed by a forward pass howler call on Tom Trbojevic.
But this time the rub of the green went their way.
It was each way if Carrigan warranted being penalised for a one-on-one strip but Ashley Klein had called held and he stuck to his guns.
It handed Garrick a relatively easy kick about 25m out and slightly off centre.
Seibold for one didn't agree.
"It was a really tough call," he said.
"It was a one on one strip.
"If he had of called held what normally happens is the guy gets to play the ball again.
"So to lose a game like that is disappointing … I just didn't think it was a penalty."
But it was a massive improvement regardless from what they dished up last week.
It was hard to believe this was the same team that got lapped by the Roosters.
The Broncos' opening 35 minutes was exceptional.
Unfortunately for Seibold they left it in the sheds at the break, although the 8-0 penalty count against them in the second half certainly didn't help.
"It was a step in the right direction," Seibold said.
"But it is disappointing not to get the result.
"There was plenty of application but we just didn't see any footy or field position in the second half.
"Probably the big lesson we take away is momentum in the game since we resumed is king.
"We had it all early. They had it all in the second half."
Young giant Xavier Coates again showed what a star he is going to be.
Bringing back memories of Israel Folau under the high ball, Coates was causing all sorts of problems every time the Broncos went to the air, scoring one try and fumbling another chance.
He was giving his opposite Tevita Funa a nightmare debut.
Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford were also vastly improved while Payne Haas ran for 163m with four offloads.
Originally published as Great escape: Controversy as lucky Manly bounce back