The Manly Sea Eagles’ supporting cast played their roles to perfection as they picked up two crucial competition points without their leading man to keep their top-four hopes alive.
And the good news keeps coming with coach Des Hasler confirming Tom Trbojevic will be back next week from his cheekbone injury.
The only thing fractured right now is Canberra’s hopes of playing finals footy after their second-half fadeouts came back to haunt them in the 19-18 loss at Suncorp Stadium.
The intrigue surrounding Turbo’s availability dominated the headlines all week and had more plot twists than a Home and Away season finale. And with Trbojevic ruled out, nothing went to script for Manly in the first half without their leading man there to run the attack.
“I don’t think they think like that at all,” Des Hasler replied when quizzed on whether his players couldn’t score without Trbojevic.
“Tom will be back next week.”
They had a try ruled out for obstruction, bombed a certain four points with an overweighted kick and had seven errors in the first half alone. They struggled to play with width, and when they did, they were repeatedly bundled into touch.
But the half-time break was their best friend and they fired in the second act to move level with the Roosters on 30 competition points, showing once and for all that they are more than just a one-man show.
“We addressed a few things at the half-time break and to our credit, they executed what we needed to,” Hasler said.
“We’re in a situation where we need to keep winning games and keep putting ourselves in a position to do it. We’ll just have to see how the other games pan out.”
They finish the season with matches against the Bulldogs and Cowboys which they’ll win by a cricket score with or without their star fullback.
Canberra fans must have had one eye on September after their side jumped out to a 12-0 lead at the break, but their finals hopes are now in tatters after yet another second half collapse.
It’s been the story of their season and has them stuck in ninth spot with two rounds remaining.
It looked like they had the perfect game plan to knock off the Sea Eagles for the second time this year, with Joseph Tapine dominating through the middle just as he did when the sides met in Round 17.