Manly comeback piles more pain on Broncos

Scott Bailey
Brisbane have blown an 18-point lead to lose 20-18 to Manly in their NRL clash in Gosford

Manly have compounded Brisbane's horror restart to the NRL season by coming from 18-0 down to win 20-18 in a controversial finish on the NSW Central Coast.

After Brisbane dominated the opening half hour, Manly clawed their way level with 10 minutes to play before Patrick Carrigan was penalised for a late strip on Jake Trbojevic.

The rake was one-on-one, but came just after Ashley Klein had called held. The ruling was technically the correct one, but the Broncos were unlucky to be called up.

"It was a really tough call, it was a one-on-one strip," Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold said.

"If he called held what normally happens is the guy gets to play the ball again. To lose a game like that is really disappointing.

"I just didn't think it was a penalty."

The result continued the Broncos' horror run, after they looked set to rebound from their worst ever loss after scoring three-unanswered tries in the first half-hour.

With limited fans welcomed back into corporate boxes, Manly's lucky 80 members would have wished their invitation had been lost in the mail at that point.

But that was before they witnessed Brisbane's edge defence again turned flimsy and Manly completed at 96 per cent in the second half with an 8-0 penalty count.

They were also forced to do it without Martin Taupau who suffered a dislocated thumb early and now faces two weeks out.

Centre Moses Suli also played through a suspected compound fracture of his finger, scoring the Sea Eagles' last try in the win.

Addin Fonua-Blake was immense leading the pack in Taupau's place, running 203 metres off the back of 20 charging runs.

"In the last 18 months he has just excelled," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"You look at the first set straight after halftime (that put Manly on the front foot), he was pretty heavily involved."

All three of the Sea Eagles' tries were run in untouched, the first to debutant Tevita Funa in the 37th minutes from a quick-fire Tom Trbojevic cut-out ball.

Daly Cherry-Evans also went over untouched after the break off the back of a sweeping left-edge movement that saw Brodie Croft make a poor read in defence.

They had it back to a two-point deficit when Dylan Walker enticed Darius Boyd to rush up in defence, allowing Trbojevic to put Suli over with ease.

Manly then kicked themselves clear with two penalty goals, atoning for last week's last-minute denial at the hands of Parramatta.

"This side has some character," Hasler said.

"I said that last week. And that's a good thing. It's going to serve them well in the months ahead."

Earlier, Brisbane had made a clear effort to target Funa on debut with Coates leaping high above him regularly.

They bombed for Coates five times in the first half, with the first resulting in him getting the ball back for Kotoni Staggs to kick for himself and score.

Coates, who was labelled a Greg Inglis clone by Brad Fittler in Nine's commentary, then scored Brisbane's second after he leapt over Fune to score.

Boyd crossed twice on the left edge, only for the second effort to be denied for an obstruction.

Meanwhile, Ben Te'o played limited minutes on his return, running just once for eight metres in a 17-minute cameo in the second row.