Paul Gallen runs the ball for the Sharks against the Sea Eagles. Picture: Mark Metcalfe
Paul Gallen runs the ball for the Sharks against the Sea Eagles. Picture: Mark Metcalfe

DCE delivers huge hit to Sharks’ top-four hopes

MANLY have put a huge dent in Cronulla's top-four hopes with a 33-32 golden-point win over the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

A field goal to captain Daly Cherry-Evans two minutes into extra time secured the embattled Sea Eagles two priceless competition points and edged them away from the wooden-spoon zone.

Cronulla led by six points late in Sunday's game before a Joel Thompson converted try five minutes from the final siren sent the points-fest into overtime.

Fielding their strongest side of the season, the Sharks will lament failing to put the lowly Sea Eagles to the sword and missing the chance to join St George Illawarra in equal fourth spot with four rounds remaining before the finals.

The match, which featured 23 penalties, was not without controversy, with referee Henry Perenara booed off after riling Cronulla fans - and Sharks captain - during a wild first half punctuated by numerous stoppages.

Perenara twice denied Cronulla tries because of obstruction and sent Test prop Aaron Woods to the sin bin for repeated infringements against the Sharks.

Cherry-Evans delivered the winning field goal. Picture: Annette Dew.
Cherry-Evans delivered the winning field goal. Picture: Annette Dew.

The pocket ref also had his double-movement decision against Dylan Walker overturned as Manly recovered from a soft start to lead 20-18 at the break.

But the Sea Eagles could well have been further in front had they chosen to go for the knockout blow rather than take two points when the Sharks were down to 12 men and desperately defending their line.

The home side took full advantage of the let-off to regroup before powerhouse centre Jesse Ramien carried three defenders over the line for a coach-killer try three seconds before halftime.

A Manly win looked most unlikely when star fullback Valentine Holmes sliced open the Sea Eagles' defence in the fourth minute to collect his 18th try of the season to join Gallen as Cronulla's equal-sixth top try-scorer.

It took until the hour mark, when Moylan stepped his way over, for the Sharks to regain the lead they relinquished midway through the first half.

The job was anything but done, with Cherry-Evans having the final say, prompting celebration from the besieged Trent Barrett in the Manly coaches' box.

MANLY 33 (S Lane 2 J Thompson T Trbojevic D Walker tries D Cherry-Evans 6 goals D Cherry-Evans field goal) bt CRONULLA 32 (W Graham V Holmes M Moylan J Ramien A Woods tries V Holmes 6 goals) in extra time at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Referee: Henry Perenara, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 13,273