Manly have compounded Brisbane’s misery by coming from 18-0 down to beat the Broncos 20-18 in a NRL thriller on the NSW central coast.
After claiming the lead with 10 minutes remaining, Tom Trbojevic pulled off the match-defining play in the final two minutes on Thursday night to deny Xavier Coates as he looked set to score.
It capped off a stunning comeback from the Sea Eagles, who came within inches last week of pulling off a similar come-from-behind win against Parramatta.
It continued the Broncos’ horror run. They looked set to rebound from last round’s 59-0 loss to the Sydney Roosters after scoring three-unanswered tries in the first half-hour.
With limited fans welcomed back into corporate boxes, Manly’s lucky 80 members would have wished their invitation had been lost in the mail at that point.
But it was then the game turned.
Brisbane’s edge defence again turned flimsy as all three of the Sea Eagles’ tries were run in untouched.
And without Martin Taupau from the opening minutes with a broken thumb, the Eagles completed at 96 per cent after halftime and led the penalty count 8-0.
After he was terrorised by Coates early, Manly debutant Tevita Funa began the comeback when Tom Trbojevic put him over with a quick-fire cut-out ball on the left wing in the 37th minute.
Manly put themselves back in the match when Daly Cherry-Evans crossed untouched on the back of a sweeping left-edge movement.
They had it back to a two-point deficit when Dylan Walker had Darius Boyd rush up in defence, allowing Tom Trbojevic to put Moses Suli over with ease.
Two-consecutive penalty goals gave the Sea Eagles the lead.
Reuben Garrick kicked his first when Coates needlessly took out Joel Thompson on a kick-chase with 16 minutes to play to level the scores.
Brisbane challenged and lost the appeal, a move they would live to regret moments later when Patrick Carrigan was penalised with nine minutes to play.
At best, the call was a harsh one against the Brisbane forward when he stripped the ball after held had been called.
Earlier, Brisbane had made a clear effort to target Funa on debut with Coates leaping high above him regularly.
They bombed for Coates five times in the first half, with the first resulting in him getting the ball back for Kotoni Staggs to kick for himself and score.
Coates, who was labelled a Greg Inglis clone by Brad Fittler in Nine’s commentary, did the work himself for the Broncos’ second.
Again, he leapt over Funa to come down and score and make it 12-0 after 18 minutes.
Boyd crossed twice on the left edge, only for the second effort to be denied for an obstruction.
Meanwhile Ben Te’o played limited minutes on his return, running just once for eight metres in a short cameo in the second row.