Manly-Warringah have picked up a third straight win after a dominant first half saw them turn a 18-6 halftime lead into a 26-18 win over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium.
With 21,779 fans packed in to the Knights' home ground, the opposition's tasks seemed daunting but if it was - it didn't show as Manly snared two tries in relatively easy fashion in the opening ten minutes.
Jorge Taufua benefited from a simple numbers play to the left edge in the third minute, Daly Cherry-Evans converting from the sideline. Reuben Garrick was next to breach the Knights' line, capitalising on an Api Koroisau break out of dummy half inside Manly's half, the Eagles hooker finding a steamrolling Jorge Taufua who eventually got it away for Garrick to have the visitors ahead of the clock with a 12-nil lead inside the first 10 minutes.
Newcastle's situation unravelled further with both Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Barnett leaving the field for HIA's, and although both were cleared, the absence of Ponga in particular and an unsettled backline saw the away side capitalise once more, with Joel Thompson pouncing on a Jake Trbojevic grubber at the 20 minute mark.
With eight to go before halftime the Knights welcomed Ponga back to the field and it paid dividends a few minutes later when the Queensland rep set up Edrick Lee with a grubber after 37 minutes, the Newcastle winger getting his side's first try, which Ponga then converted for an 18-6 score at the change of ends.
Newcastle were first on the board after the break as well, with the Bunker awarding Aidan Guerra a controversial try under the posts after he burrowed over from dummy half before losing it backwards. The Bunker ruled in Guerra's favour and with Ponga's conversion the margin was reduced to just six points. Make up your own mind on that one:
Aidan Guerra with a very sneaky try! #NRLKnightsManly pic.twitter.com/RL02trO6fM
— NRL (@NRL) April 13, 2019
Having settled a little too much, Manly took it up a gear, attempting two penalties in the following ten minutes - one of them successful - in order to take their lead back beyond a converted try.
They followed up the penalty goal with a 62nd minute try to Addin Fonua-Blake who ran through a yawning gap from a short ball and despite a 66th minute return of serve from Newcastle second-rower Mitch Barnett, the Sea Eagles looked likely winners for the remainder of the contest, holding on for a 26-18 victory and improve their win-loss record to 3-2 after five rounds, having been 0-2 after two games.
The loss for Newcastle sinks them to a 1-4 record and will no doubt start to place pressure on a side expected to be much improved in 2019. Next week they face the Titans who similarly have won just one game this season.
Manly will relish the chance, meanwhile, to head south to Wollongong and take on a weakened Dragons outfit on Easter Saturday.