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Manly shock injured Cowboys with NRL win

NZN 18/03/2017 Rohan O'Neil

Manly's horror start to the 2017 NRL season has ended emphatically in Townsville after they scored a much-needed 30-8 victory over North Queensland.

The Cowboys were without the services of four regulars in the Saturday night clash and their injury crisis looks to have worsened, with backs Justin O'Neill and Kyle Feldt picking up knocks in the underwhelming display.

The under-fire Sea Eagles put a wretched run behind them to stun the 2015 premiers, with the visitors holding the Cowboys scoreless for the final 50 minutes.

A visibly relieved Trent Barrett spoke glowingly of his side's efforts in taxing conditions at 1300SMILES Stadium on the back of a hugely disruptive week for the Sydney club.

"It would probably be an understatement to say that we needed it," Barrett said.

"We desperately needed it and it was just a fantastic effort.

"It took all 17 of them so I'm really happy for the group, it's good to see them smile again.

"The off-field stuff doesn't help but to their credit the players knuckled down and that's what won us the game, our goal line defence."

Barrett's sentiments were shared by Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans after the besieged halfback led his team superbly in their maiden victory for 2017.

"It's just relief, purely because of the last couple of weeks and to get the monkey off our backs," he said.

"Like any team the first win of the season is pretty special and now we have to try and back it up next week."

Manly started superbly, with a Dylan Walker penalty goal giving them an early lead before Johnathan Thurston balanced the ledger at 18 minutes.

North Queensland's new-look forward pack made dents in the Manly defence despite the absence of Matt Scott and Jason Tauamalolo, and their efforts paid off when hooker Jake Granville scooted over for the game's first try.

A hamstring injury ended the night of Cowboys centre O'Neill soon after and the forced reshuffle seemed to hurt the home side as Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a stunning 40-20 before putting Jorge Taufua over for a try with a grubber.

Walker's conversion tied the game at 8-8 and the Silvertails weren't done, with boom fullback Tom Trbojevic scooping up a poor Thurston grubber and motoring 90m to send the visitors into the break leading 14-8.

The Sea Eagles added to their lead early in the second half through another Walker penalty and things worsened for the hosts when Nate Myles charged over to hand his side a handy 14-point lead with half an hour to go.

Ill-discipline again hurt the Cowboys, resulting in yet another Walker two-pointer before the game was bogged down for a quarter-hour with dropped balls killing a number of attacking chances at both ends.

North Queensland asked plenty of questions of the Sea Eagles but the Sydneysiders were equal to the task as a Jackson Hastings four-pointer put an exclamation mark on the result.

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