DCE stars as Manly sink Sharks, Knights stunned by Dragons fightback
Daly Cherry-Evans staked a claim for State of Origin selection as Manly Sea Eagles beat Cronulla Sharks 35-18 to move into the top four at the expense of the reigning NRL champions.
Queensland Maroons will require a new half-back for the Origin decider after it was confirmed talisman Johnathan Thurston requires season-ending shoulder surgery.
Cherry-Evans did his best to boost his chances of replacing Thurston on Sunday, setting up three tries as Manly recorded a 14th win in their last 16 matches with the Sharks.
Curtis Sironen benefited from a pair of Cherry-Evans assists, while the playmaker also laid on one of Matthew Wright's two tries. Blake Green and Dylan Walker were the other men to cross for the Sea Eagles.
St George Illawarra Dragons were indebted to Gareth Widdop as they pulled off a stunning comeback to beat Newcastle Knights 32-28 in Sunday's other match.
The Knights ran in 28 unanswered points to lead by 18 at the interval, Nathan Ross scoring a hat-trick from full-back after Jason Nightingale's early brace had given the Dragons a handy lead.
However, Widdop then inspired a second-half turnaround, during which Nightingale completed his own hat-trick.