Newcastle Knights topple Manly Sea Eagles in nailbiter


The Newcastle Knights have secured a gritty two-point victory over the Manly Sea Eagles, but not without another controversial referee decision.

In the second half of Sunday’s encounter in Newcastle, a high kick from Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans flew towards the right wing, where it was caught by Tevita Funa, who quickly flung the ball back into play.

The touch judge was unmoved as the crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium went berserk.

Replays showed Funa was comfortably over the sideline when he caught the ball, which left the commentators baffled.

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“It was about half a metre into touch, and that was allowed to play on! What happened there?” Fox League commentator Warren Smith queried.

“I couldn’t believe he could keep that in play. In reality, he didn’t.

“There’s his foot completely on the other side of the sideline.”

Balmain Tigers great Steve Roach laughed: “What’s the touchie doing?

“You’ve got one job!”

Regardless, the Knights emerged victors after a topsy-turvy encounter, in which the lead was exchanged on three occasions.

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Manly raced ahead in the opening ten minutes by scoring the first two tries — including a phenomenal effort from five-eighth Cade Cust — but the hosts immediately returned serve with four tries of their own.

The Sea Eagles regained the lead in the second half, and desperately defended on their try line for what seemed an eternity. But the Knights eventually dived over in the 72nd minute, with centre Enari Tuala snaring a double.

The scoreline read 26-24 when the final siren sounded, and Newcastle will jump to sixth spot on the NRL ladder after securing their eighth win of the season. Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles are at risk of slipping to tenth if the Wests Tigers defeat the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon.

Starford To’a, Kurt Mann and Hymel Hunt were the other tryscorers for Newcastle in the nailbiting contest.

Next weekend, the Sea Eagles will face the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Sydney while the Knights will host the North Queensland Cowboys.