Manly get off the mark for 2022 with narrow 13-12 victory over Canterbury

North Queensland have ended Brisbane’s unbeaten start to the season while Manly have escaped with a tight win over Canterbury.

Daly Cherry-Evans’ golden boot has kicked Manly to their first win of the NRL season, with a scrappy 13-12 victory over Canterbury.

In scenes reminiscent of the Sea Eagles’ first win last season against the Warriors, Cherry-Evans drilled a 77th-minute drop goal from 25 metres out and to the right of the post.

The kick marked Cherry-Evans’ 23rd of his NRL career, drawing him level with Adam Reynolds with the most field goals among all current players.

The Bulldogs’ final two raids came up short, with Josh Addo-Carr putting a kick into touch on the siren as Canterbury tried to work it out of their own end of the field.

But the Sea Eagles were made to toil hard for their first victory of the year, with Kieran Foran easily their best player.

After Manly trailed 8-0 early, Foran put Brad Parker into space in a left-edge movement that allowed Reuben Garrick to fly down the wing.

Fittingly it was Tom Trbojevic who scored the club’s first try under the newly opened Bob Fulton stand, the team’s current superstar putting the ball down in front of the new building named in honour of Manly’s greatest ever player.

Foran also put on a wonderful ball for a Garrick try right on halftime, cutting out two men in wet conditions at Brookvale.

The Bulldogs were resolute in defence, showing they are a far more resilient team in 2022.

They held out 26 play-the-balls in their own red-zone in the second half of the match, refusing to let Manly in and take a clear advantage.

Brandon Wakeham showed promise at halfback when he scored off two Manly errors in the first two minutes, while Matt Burton’s kicks terrorised the Sea Eagles’ back three in the air.

Matt Dufty kicked for a Braidon Burns try, on a night where they were forced to play with 16 men for the most part with Jack Hetherington suffering a shoulder injury.

And after holding on for the first 30 minutes of the second half at 10-8 down, they were able to draw level with 10 minutes to play via a penalty goal.

But ultimately experience and Cherry-Evans’ cool head showed as he slotted the field goal after Burton gifted field possession when he kicked out on the full.

Tom Dearden’s found a home in North Queensland, where coach Todd Payten says he’s proved he belongs in the NRL after masterminding the flogging of former club Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

The 21-year-old was instrumental in the Cowboys’ 38-12 win on Sunday, combining beautifully with fellow recruit Chad Townsend in his first game in Brisbane since the Broncos let him go last year.

The schoolboy star debuted for Brisbane as an 18-year-old but struggled in a losing team, while injury also stunted what many expected would be a swift rise.

Signed by the Cowboys last year, Dearden was released early by Kevin Walters and given opportunities under Payten, eventually ending an individual 14-game losing streak with a win late last season.

He’s earned a spot alongside Townsend this season and excelled, the Cowboys now 2-1 after conceding just 24 points across their first three rounds.

“I’m just so happy for the kid because it means something to him,” Payten said.