Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans admits his head had dropped, watching Tom Trbojevic limp off injured, before confirming his own status as the NRL's golden-point king in the Sea Eagles' 13-12 win over South Sydney.
Manly look set for another stint without their superstar fullback Trbojevic. He pulled up lame on Saturday afternoon midway through a simple kick return, limping straight up the tunnel and clutching the same hamstring that had ruined his pre-season.
The blow set the scene for a gutsy second half, as Manly took the lead with just one man on the bench before Adam Reynolds kicked a sideline penalty with eight minutes to play to level the scores.
But the Souths' halfback missed two opportunities to win the game with drop goals, before Cherry-Evans nailed his one and only from 40m out in the 85th minute.
The Manly captain has a record five golden point-winning field goals, overtaking Johnathan Thurston's mark of four.
"We have a template we like to go to if we get a set start in golden point," the Manly No.7 said.
"It felt really nice off the boot. You don't want to take those uncomfortably awkward shots in golden point, because the result is a seven-tackle set."
Cherry-Evans has 19 field goals for his career, and is one of the most dependable at the crunch.
"They're those big moments and Cherry is a big-moment player," Manly coach Des Hasler said.
"He has been there before and he knows those situations well. I know Cherry would say that's what I'm there for and that's what the players expect him to do."
Manly also lost Corey Waddell to a heavy concussion and Joel Thompson was placed on report for a trip. The biggest concerns, however, will be over Trbojevic two months out from State of Origin.
He had earlier been the Sea Eagles' best for a second-straight week on return from his last injury, slicing through the Rabbitohs' defence for Manly's only first-half try.
"That's deflating (to lose him)," Cherry-Evans said.
"He's a strike player. It was deflating. My head dropped, but my job is to compose myself and everyone else."
Trbojevic' brother Jake stepped up in his absence, forcing an error from Souths winger Campbell Graham for Manly's other try, when Manase Fainu scooped up the loose ball to score.
Martin Taupau also ran 200m in the middle, in a game that was filled with a combined 30 errors but was both brutal and draining up front.
Sam Burgess was again the Rabbitohs' best forward, scoring his fourth try of the season, while Cody Walker set up Graham for their other try.
"We got what we deserved ... we were average," Souths coach Wayne Bennett said.
Australian Associated Press