The St George Illawarra Dragons have completed a remarkable comeback, defeating the Manly Sea Eagles 36-34 at Oki Jubilee this afternoon.
Midway through the second half, the Dragons trailed 34-10 but a bombardment of points, including two tries to Nathan Blacklock in his farewell appearance at Kogarah helped seal the miraculous win and keep the Dragons top four hopes alive.
The Dragons looked gone for all money and it would have been a brave man to tip the Dragons to make a revival when their chances looked extremely grim.
Manly held a commanding 24-4 lead and looked certain to hand the Dragons a shock loss just two weeks out from the finals. The Sea Eagles were scoring at will through long range tries to Scott Donald but Nathan Blacklock would not be denied in his Dragons swan song appearance and had a hand in three second half tries, scoring two and setting up one for Matt Cooper out wide.
Nathan Brown would be feeling a little bit greyer and will need an ECG to see if his heart rate has returned to normal but the crowd would have got their money?s worth and more, especially when Parramatta bound Mark Riddell slotted what was to be the match winning goal with just over two minutes remaining.
Manly fans would be bitterly disappointed with the loss after being in such a dominant positing for much of the game but there were some positive signs for Sea Eagles fans, and with Brent Kite and Ben Kennedy on their way to the peninsula next season, a top eight berth is not out of the question.
The Dragons now have the bye next weekend and to make the top four and secure a home final, Brisbane must beat the Panthers at Penrith otherwise the Dragons will travel to Penrith in the first week of the finals but should have a second bite at the cherry if they lose.
Scorers: DRAGONS 36 Tries: Timmins, Withers, Blacklock 2, Hornby, Cooper, Poore Goals: Head 1/2, Riddell 3/5
SEA EAGLES 34 Tries: Stephenson 2, Menzies, Donald, Stewart, Williamson Goals: Williamson 2/2, Walker 3/4
By the clock: 1st min: Kick Off!!! There is rain falling at Oki Jubilee Stadium. Bad start for the Eagles when Brett Stewart is tackled in-goal off the kick off.
5th Min: Still 0-0, Eagles defence is good in the early stages.
7th Min: Try-Manly, A Kick across field from Michael Monaghan ends up in the ends of Paul Stephenson who scores the first try of the game. Williamson converts, Manly 6-0.
11th Min: Try-Manly, Paul Stephenson gets his second try today after Steven Menzies passed over to him. Williamson converts, Manly lead 12-0.
17th Min: Still 12-0 to Manly here, Dragons had a chance a few minutes ago but lost the ball.
22nd Min: No change to the scoreline, and the rain is still falling. Manly 12-0.
24th Min: Trent Barrett was over the line but lost the ball in a tackle, another bombed chance by the Dragons. 12-0 Manly.
33rd Min: Try-Dragons, The Dragons go in for their first try through Shaun Timmins after a good ball from Trent Barrett, Matthew Head missed the kick, Manly 12-4.
37th Min: Try-Manly, Steven Menzies grabs his 147th Try, the most by a forward ever in Australia, and it came off a little grubber kick from Michael Monaghan, Walker Converts, Manly 18-4.
40th Min: Try-Manly, Scott Donald races 70m to score another Try for Manly after a mistake from the Dragons, Walker converts and at Halftime Manly lead 24-4.
41st Min: The Dragons have a lot of work to do in this second half.
News: Trent Barrett may not be back today after being hurt in the first half.
47th Min: Try-Dragons, Lincoln Withers scores a Try after a great offload from Lance Thompson, Withers converts. Manly 24-10.
50th Min: Try-Manly, Brett Stewart goes in for a try after Sam Harris tapped it backwards, Walker converts, Manly 30-10.
52nd Min: Try-Manly, Luke Williamson score a try after Monaghan gave the ball onto Donald who threw a shocking pass but it came off Williamson's foot and he scores. Walker misses the kick, Manly 34-10.
57th Min: Try-Dragons, Nathan Blacklock gets a try after a nice little grubber kick from Mark Riddell, Riddell misses, Manly 34-14.
62nd Min: Try-Dragons, Nathan Blacklock gets his second of the day after a grubber kick, Riddell Converts, Manly 34-20.
64th Min: Try-Dragons, they are on their way back, this time a Try to Ben Hornby who scores under the posts, Riddell converts and it's 34-26 Manly.
66th Min: Try-Dragons, Nathan Blacklock puts in a kick for Matt Cooper who goes into score a Try, Riddell misses, Manly 34-30.
71st Min: No change to the score, nine minutes left, Manly 34-30.
74th Min: Eagles to get the ball back from a line drop-out.
75th Min: Dragons hold on, still 34-30 to Manly...five left.
76th Min: Dragons to get the ball back off a line drop-out.
78th Min: Try-Dragons, Justin Poore scores a Try to even things up, Riddell converts and the Dragons lead 36-34!!!!!!!!!!
80th Min: Scott Donald lost the ball when he had 40m to go, and only had to beat one.
Fulltime: The Dragons have made the best comeback I have ever seen, they were down 34-10 and have come back to win the game 36-34, I hope you enjoyed it!
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Head (Dragons) 2 - M Monagan (Sea Eagles) 1 - M Riddell (Dragons) -----------------------------------------