Cherry-Evans downs Bunnies, Eels too good for depleted Sharks
A golden-point drop-goal from Manly Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans condemned South Sydney Rabbitohs to their first defeat of the NRL season on Saturday, while Parramatta Eels said goodbye to ANZ Stadium with a 24-12 victory over the injury-hit Cronulla Sharks.
The Rabbitohs had begun 2019 with three successive wins, but went down 13-12 to Manly courtesy of Cherry-Evans' match-winning kick from 40 yards, after the teams could not be separated in 80 minutes.
Adam Reynolds missed three goals and two attempted one-pointers for the visitors at Lottoland, in a contest that saw both teams cross twice.
However, Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett refused to blame the half-back and instead pointed the finger at his side's lack of intensity.
"I thought we got what we deserved," Bennett was quoted as saying by the NRL's official website. "We were average. It was the attitude today that killed them. It's never one guy when we play that way - it was the whole lot of them out there."
The only downside for Manly was the loss of Tom Trbojevic, who was forced off with an apparent recurrence of the left hamstring injury that ruled him out of the first two rounds of the season.
Shaun Johnson (quad) was a late withdrawal from the Cronulla side to face Parramatta and the Sharks also lost Aaron Woods to a suspected broken foot as they were out-scored by four tries to two.
Sosaia Feki went over twice for Cronulla, but scores from Marata Niukore, Brad Takairangi and Michael Jennings (2) ensured the Eels, for whom Mitchell Moses impressed, ran out winners in their final home game before they take up residence at the newly-built Bankwest Stadium in round six.
Saturday's other game saw North Queensland Cowboys suffer more misery with a 30-12 home defeat to Canberra Raiders.
The Raiders and the Eels join the Rabbitohs and Roosters on three wins from four games, while Melbourne Storm have the chance to move two points clear at the top of the table when they host Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday.