Wests Tigers have pulled off one of the comebacks of the season to defeat the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 34-32 at Lottoland.
Down 20-6 midway through the first half with a mountain of possession against them, it was a determined response from Wests Tigers to fight back and reduce the margin to just two throughout the second half — twice — before a flurry of late points saw the visitors storm home to win.
With two set restarts and another six-again in their first touch of the footy, it was the home side who got the scoring underway after just three minutes when Daly Cherry-Evans put Morgan Harper over from close range on the right edge.
A stunning try-saver from Tom Mikaele somehow denied Harper the chance to double his exploits shortly after, but with a weight of possession behind them it didn't take long for the Sea Eagles to cross again as new halves Josh Schuster and Cherry-Evans combined to send Jorge Taufua over out wide.
Cherry-Evans' two missed sideline conversions left the score at 8-0.
Made to do a mountain of defensive work early on, it would take until the 14th minute for Wests Tigers to have just their second set with the footy — such was the dominance shown from Manly inside the opening part of the match.
When they did finally get their hands back on the ball, it soon transpired in to points for Michael Maguire's men as Benji Marshall's kick sat up perfectly for David Nofoaluma to race through and score. The try would be the winger's 15th four-pointer of the season — his best individual tally in a season as well as the most by any player in the competition so far this year — to pull his side within two points as Adam Doueihi's sideline effort snuck inside the left upright.
Nofoaluma reaches career-high 15th try of the year
An error from the kickoff would undue that good work and apply more pressure on their own line, and they soon would fall further behind as a result.
With Cherry-Evans orchestrating the attack, Jack Gosiewski and Tevita Funa would score within quick succession — Manly dominating the possession count by a stunning 80 percent to 20 to push their lead out to 14 points.
Having only just gone atop the NRL's try-scorers list earlier on the night, Nofoaluma made it eight tries in 10 career games against the Silvertails with a jinking run just before the break to bag his second four-pointer of the game.
After starting slow in the first half, Wests Tigers again found themselves on the back foot after giving up two penalties in their first two defensive sets of the half — followed by two errors in their two attacking sets — but were this time able to turn the Sea Eagles at bay without their try-line breached any further.
Shifted to fullback for the first time this season, co-captain Moses Mbye would bring Wests Tigers within two points when he burst on to a short ball from Luke Brooks, but it wouldn't last long as a rare error from Nofoaluma allowed Manly to hit back through Jake Trbojevic to restore their eight-point advantage.
With Schuster forced off with an injury with 15 minutes to go, Cherry-Evans would seemingly the game beyond doubt with his fourth try assist of the night — sending Harper over again to blow the scoreline open again to 32-18.
But a successful short kickoff, Doueihi would extend his personal points tally to 12 with a converted try eight minutes from time to keep Maguire's men in the contest.
When Nofoaluma crossed for his third, the comeback was well and truly on, before Doueihi's second of the night in the final minute ensured it be a night to remember for Wests Tigers with one of their finest comebacks to remember.
Wests Tigers 34 (Nofoaluma 3, Doueihi 2, Mbye tries; Doueihi 5/6 goals) def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 32 (Harper 2, Taufua, Gosiewski, Funa, Trbojevic tries; Cherry-Evans 4/6 goals) at Lottoland