The NYC Cowboys ended their 2014 season with a 36-24 loss to Manly, who also missed out on finals action, at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
Although the match started well for the Cowboys with Yamba Bowie scoring before two minutes had elapsed, they were clearly outplayed for much of the first half, especially from the 20-minute mark onwards.
Impressive fullback Tom Trbojevic, who looks ready-made for the NRL, and winger Luke Gosling both scored doubles as the Sea Eagles went into the break with a 30-10 lead.
The only other first-half highlight for the Cowboys was a try to back-rower David Munro that broke his duck for the season to give the home team a 10-6 lead.
It came from a break up the middle from halfway by hooker Josh Chudleigh who needed to pass a pre-match fitness test on his calf to take his place in the starting lineup.
The Cowboys rallied in the opening 20 of the second half to cut the margin to 10 points.
The always busy Chudleigh, who is a clear frontrunner for NYC player of the year honours with North Queensland, started the fightback with a solo try before Lenny Magey, one of six Cowboys playing their last NYC game, touched down after scooping up a crosskick bat back from Scott Schulte on his inside.
There was another setback for Manly who lost Trbojevic to a knee injury with 16 minutes left after he tried to tackle a runaway Delayne Ashby.
Chudleigh was held up over the line on two occasions in the second 40 as he tried all he could to breach the gap.
NQ should have been back to within a converted try with 12 to go when Conor Carey headed towards the corner but lost possession at the crucial moment.
Manly’s match sealer came in the 73rd minute with Nicholas Hynes setting up Hugh Pratt for their only try of the second 40 – a second of the night for the replacement.
The Cowboys’ defensive line was a player down at the time with Chudleigh being treated for cramps.
There was still time for vice-captain Corey Jensen to farewell the Cowboys with a try to give the home team 14-6 advantage in the second half.