A last-second field goal from skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has given Manly a dramatic 13-12 victory over the Warriors and delivered their first win of the NRL season.
The Sea Eagles were staring at a crushing fifth straight defeat to start the year when Sean O'Sullivan claimed a go-ahead try for the Warriors early in the second half in Gosford on friday night.
However youngster Josh Schuster bagged a try to level the scores with 20 minutes to go, setting up a thrilling finish as both teams struggled to land the knock-out punch.
O'Sullivan sprayed the Warriors' only field goal attempt wide with five minutes remaining, while many were left scratching their heads when Schuster, not Cherry-Evans, lined up a shot in the 79th minute.
The Warriors scrambled and charged down that kick
However Cherry-Evans stepped up shortly after with his field goal to land a morale-boosting win.
"(Josh) was an option (for field goal). It was something we spoke about from time to time," Manly coach Des Hasler said.
"But in the end, it's something that 'Chez' does well, those big moments. He's handled them before.
"There was a lot of positives. We'll take that, move on to Mudgee next week and get ready for the Titans."
The victory was soured by a suspected hamstring injury to Manly fullback Dylan Walker.
Walker, filling in at the back for the injured Tom Trbojevic, limped off the field and failed to return, while second-rower Jack Gosiewski is facing a season-ending ankle injury.
The victory comes a week before the return of a number of troops, led by their star fullback.
Points were hard to come by for most of a scrappy first half at Central Coast Stadium, with the Warriors twice denying the Sea Eagles the first try with desperate goal-line defence.
It wasn't until some out-of-the-box thinking from Cherry-Evans that the deadlock was finally broken.
Forced to drag his team out of trouble with early-play kicking, it was a 70-metre kick from a scrum that resulted in Jason Saab burning Ken Maumalo for the opening try in the 28th minute.
It was the first time the Sea Eagles had led in a game this season, but it lasted just three minutes as a Jack Murchie line break ended with Maumalo ensuring the ledger was squared at the break.
The Warriors looked on their way when O'Sullivan dummied past a tired Sean Keppie in the 46th minute, but Schuster set up the exciting finish when he pounced on a loose ball to score.
The defeat for the Warriors, on the same day it was revealed star prop Addin Fonua-Blake could be out for up to four months with a fractured patella, leaves them mired in the bottom half of the table.
"If Addin did play tonight, it wouldn't have changed the way we went about our offence," Warriors coach Nathan Brown said.
"Our players in the key positions just didn't quite get us in the right areas enough, and that sent (Roger Tuiasva-Sheck) on a bit of a wild goose chase chasing the ball."
Australian Associated Press