Manly have been denied a thrilling final-minute win over Parramatta after controversially being pulled up for forward pass late in their 19-16 loss at Bankwest Stadium.
After they trailed 18-6 early in the second half, the Sea Eagles worked the margin back to three with three minutes to play on Saturday night.
They looked to have the match won when Tom Trbojevic put Rueben Garrick over the line from 20 metres out, only for referee Ben Cummins to rule the pass forward.
Replays appeared to show the ball had gone backwards out of the hand before travelling forward in the air, making it a legal play.
“I thought I threw it back,” Trbojevic said after fulltime on Fox League.
“I didn’t get to see too much of it. You get those ones, disappointing one but that’s footy I guess.”
The call overshadowed what was a real litmus test for the Eels in the first match against another genuine contender this season.
The win kept them atop the ladder, with their best start to a season in 31 years and just the fourth time in their history they have gone 4-0 to start the competition.
Maika Sivo was the star as he set up two first-half tries with offloads, before Mitchell Moses held his nerve with a late field goal.
Usually renowned for his bullocking runs, Sivo twice showed nice hands to give the Eels two unanswered tries in the opening 40.
The first came when he popped one back to Michael Jennings in the 31st minute just as Trbojevic looked to make a try-saving tackle on the line.
Nine minutes later he was in the action again to give the Eels a 12-2 halftime lead.
Moving to centre for a nicely-worked centre-field scrum play, he threw a one-handed offload for Dylan Brown to cross.
And when Kane Evans made the most of a Manly error in the first set after the break to make it 18-2, it looked as if the Eels had the game on ice.
It was then the Sea Eagles awoke.
Tom Trbojevic put Jorge Taufua over from a mid-field scrum to reduce the margin to 12, before Dylan Walker ran it on the last to make it 18-12 with 26 minutes to play.
After Moses nailed a field goal with six minutes remaining to make it 19-12, Taufua barged over again to make it a three-point game with three to play.
The Sea Eagles again had all the running in the final minute, before Trbojevic’s ball was called forward just as Garrick forced his way over the line.