“Last week was deflating, but to do it again and get the result is really satisfying,” Cherry-Evans said.
“The big lessons we need to learn is how we play our first half of footy. It’s chalk and cheese compared to the second half two weeks in a row now.
“We need to be better starting. And having a ten-day turnaround [until Canberra] is a good time to address a few things.
Cherry-Evans had the chance to put Manly in front with seven minutes remaining, but shanked it from 12m out.
But the Sea Eagles were given a contentious penalty a couple of minutes later and took the two gift points on offer.
Had they not blown a ridiculous captain’s challenge a few minutes earlier, the Broncos had good grounds to dispute whether Patrick Carrigan had illegally stripped Jake Trbojevic.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold certainly did not think it was a penalty.
“It was a really tough call – it was a one-on-one strip,” Seibold said.
“If he had called ‘held’ what normally happens is the guy gets to play the ball again. To lose the game like that is disappointing. I just didn’t think it was a penalty.”
Taupau lasted eight minutes, clutching at his hand as he left the field. It was later confirmed he had suffered a compound fracture to his left thumb. Coach Des Hasler said Taupau was looking at up to a fortnight on the sidelines, while Suli would undergo X-rays for a suspected broken finger.
At least the Sea Eagles can rest easy knowing they still have Fonua-Blake in the middle
It was an eventful night for Manly’s debutant winger Tevita Funa, who was terrorised early by the Broncos and in particular opposite winger Xavier Coates.
On several occasions Coates came down with the high ball, setting up Kotoni Staggs’ first try and then scoring the second himself. Coates was exciting the commentators with his athleticism and Brad Fittler even went as far to describe him as a ‘”Greg Inglis clone”.
The 22-year-old Funa was brought in to replace the injured Jorge Taufua, and could hold his head high at the end of the night. He was seen stretching his calves as he cramped with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The famous ‘Eagle Rock’ blared out of Central Coast Stadium at fulltime as the lucky fans allowed into the venue for the first time made their share of noise.
Brisbane have now lost three on the bounce to genuine premiership threats Parramatta, the Sydney Roosters and Manly. At least this was not a 59-0 blowout.
“It was a step in the right direction,” Seibold said.
Things will not improve when they return to the Central Coast next Thursday to take on another heavyweight in Newcastle.
Manly hope to welcome the return of Curtis Sironen who was sidelined with a knee injury.
The loss of Taupau will hurt the Sea Eagles up front, but as long as Cherry-Evans, Fonua-Blake and the Trbojevic brothers remain fit, they will be in the hunt with any opposition.
Trbojevic threw a lovely cut-out pass for Funa for Manly’s only try in the first half. He then hung back in attack and drew Staggs out of the defensive line, in turn creating a yawning gap for Cherry-Evans to start the second-half fightback.
Suli could not believe his eyes when he found himself on the end of a two-man overlap to score.
The Broncos threatened late before Coates was shoved over the sideline by Trbojevic. There was a brief fear ‘Turbo’ had suffered a shoulder injury, but it was a false alarm.
Brisbane should not have lost this after establishing a decent lead. Darius Boyd had a better game for the visitors and thought he had two tries in as many minutes. But he was also caught out in defence, resulting in Suli’s easy four-pointer.
Ben Te’o was brought into the game midway through the second half, his first NRL appearance in 2076 days since South Sydney’s historic 2014 grand-final triumph.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.