The Wests Tigers looked no chance to beat Manly for all bar the final ten minutes, when Manly were out on their feet. The Tigers put on three tries to take the lead for the first time - and the win 34-32 - with just 80 seconds remaining in the game.
Manly dominated the first half field position, possession and on the scoreboard. In the fourth minute of the game, they opened the scoring via a simple crash run play on the short side where Daly Cherry-Evans dished a line ball to Morgan Harper, who forced his way over for a try out wide on the right. Cherry-Evans failed to convert.
Five minutes later and Manly were in again. From the back of a scrum near the Tigers line, play went to the left side where debutant Josh Schuster sent a stunning no look pass out the back to Cherry-Evans, who drifted left, drew the defence and then sent a good ball out to Jorge Taufua, who bulldozed his way over to score in the corner. Cherry-Evans again failed to convert from touch.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the 16th minute through a well-weighted kick from Benji Marshall, which just sat up nicely for David Nofoaluma, who flew through and somehow planted the rolling ball, one-handed, before it went dead in goal. Adam Doueihi converted from touch.
Manly it back just over 2 minutes later after Josh Aloiai turned the ball over near his own line from the restart. Cherry-Evans grubbered behind the Tigers defensive line, no-one was home and Jack Gosiewski regathered to score under the posts. Cherry-Evans makes no mistake with the conversion.
The next ten minutes saw much of the game camped in the Tigers half and eventually the defensive workload was too much for the Tigers, when Tevita Funa received the ball on the right, stopped, stepped back inside and then walked through some very tired defence in the middle to score under the posts. Cherry-Evans again converted to give Manly a 20-6 lead.
The Tigers kept themselves in the game just before halftime when they went right with some less than ideal passing. Marshall's ball to Joey Leilua was low and bounced, but Leilua sent it along with great skill to Nofoaluma, who stepped inside the cover defence to run in for his second try. Doueihi again sent a great sideline conversion between the sticks from out wide.
The second half started similarly to the first, with Manly dominating possession and field position, however it was the Tigers who scored first when Mbye received a nice pass from Luke Brooks and slipped between the disjointed Manly right side defence to score. Doueihi again nailed the sideline conversion to reduce Manly's lead to just 2 points.
Within 5 minutes, Manly crossed again thanks to some brilliant playmaking from Martin Taupau, who got the ball at first receiver, drifted right towards the posts and then hit the lead runner, Jake Trbojevic with a nice short ball and he strolled through a weak tackle attempt to score a soft try. Cherry-Evans slotted the easy conversion.
Manly extended their lead even further in the 66th minute when Cherry-Evans hit Harper with a hard, flat ball. Harper receives the ball outside of Doueihi and strolls over for an easy try. Cherry-Evans converted to give Manly what seemed like an unassailable 32-18 lead.
With just 10 minutes remaining in the game, Moses Mbye drew his outside defender before dishing the ball to Doueihi who dived over in the left corner for an easy try. Doueihi converted yet again to reduce the deficit to 8 points.
The Tigers crossed again in the 74th minute with a bit of razzle dazzle. Doueihi with a great bumping run, eventually got a ball along to Brooks, who then sent it along to Harry Grant. Grant went right with a nice draw and pass to Joey Leilua, who did the same to put Nofoaluma on a saloon passage to the tryline and he dived over in the right corner. Doueihi failed to convert, leaving the Tigers trailing by 4 points.
Then on the 78th minute, Brooks on the right side, kicked across to left side and found Doueihi, who took a clean contested catch above his head and scored to the left of the posts to level the scores. Doueihi nailed the conversion, his easiest of the night to give the Tigers a 2 point lead and the victory.