Daly Cherry-Evans makes NRL history as fans cry foul after contentious Roosters calls

The Manly halfback has shown why he is considered one of the best in the NRL.

Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has created NRL history in his team's gritty 21-14 win over the Roosters at Brookvale Oval having kicked another field goal, albeit after a controversial moment. The Roosters were awful in possession on a wet afternoon at Brookvale with Manly proving too strong with new recruit Luke Brooks having a hand in two of the tries.

While there was controversy over Manly's first try, when it appeared James Tedesco was impeded in jumping for the ball, it was Cherry-Evans who showed his experience to slot a field goal with a few minutes remaining to put the contest out of reach. And in doing so, Cherry-Evans moved to the top of the leader board during the NRL era with 27 field goals in 307 games.

James Tedesco jumps for the ball and Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates.
Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has created history having kicked the most drop goals in the NRL era, which came after a controversial James Tedesco moment in the first half. (Images: Channel Nine/Getty Images)

He surpassed James Maloney and Jamie Soward after his effort against the Roosters. However, the field goal wasn't slotted without drama with some fans questioning why the blocker rule wasn't enforced.

Blockers have been heavily penalised in the first two rounds of 2024 if they have impeded any chaser heading towards the kicker. This was also the case during trial games. In previous seasons, players have stood around the ruck to provide a block for the kickers. While the rule has existed that no player can impede the line of an on-rushing defender, referees are enforcing it with greater consistency in 2024.

In this case, Roosters forward Lindsay Collins was charging down Cherry-Evans when he collided with a Manly player. Collins did not appear close to Cherry-Evans and the contact was minimal, but in other games Manly would likely have been penalised for a blocker in front of a kicker.

Daly-Cherry Evans kicking a field goal against the Roosters.
Taniela Paseka appeared to break the rules during Daly-Cherry Evans' field goal. Image: Channel 9

In the Roosters' first game of the season, Collins was at marker and was joined by a teammate when they were deemed to have impeded a defender running towards Sam Walker. The halfback slotted the field goal, but it was overturned. At the time, Michael Ennis was critical of the new rule and questioned how it could be consistently enforced.

Unfortunately, the Roosters didn't get the same ruling against Manly as Cherry-Evans secured the victory with his record-breaking field goal. And some fans pointed out the new rule was't enforced on this occasion when it appeared to fit the criteria of a penalty in 2024.

James Tedesco calls out ruling after first try controversy

The Roosters were also left flabbergasted after they conceded the first try when Tedesco appeared to be impeded when attempting to catch a bomb. Brooks launched the ball high when Manly were attacking the line, before fullback Tom Trbojevic turned around and backed into Tedesco.

Trbojevic never really appeared likely he would get the ball, before Tedesco collided with him and teammate Brandon Smith before knocking it on. Manly regathered and scored the try. The try was looked at and awarded, which left the commentators baffled.

Karl Lawton and Daly Cherry-Evans celebrate.
Daly Cherry-Evans (pictured right) has become the player with the most drop goals in the NRL era.

“I’m stunned that that isn’t a penalty for the Roosters,” Greg Alexander said during Fox Sports commentary. Warren Smith added: “I am surprised".

And while Roosters coach Trent Robinson was adamant it wasn't a try, he also made no excuse for his team and admitted it wouldn't have changed the outcome after such a poor showing. “I mean it’s clear that wasn’t (a try). Obviously it was a no try. Pretty simple but I don’t think we would have won the game,” Robinson said in his post-game presser. “It’s pretty simple that that’s been the rule that they’ve sent out, they’ve been really clear that’s a penalty so it was a strange one.”

Captain Tedesco admitted he sought clarification over why it wasn't a penalty, but was also critical of his team's performance. “I asked Todd (Smith) the question as he made contact in the air,” Tedesco said. “We’ve watched clips on that and that’s a penalty. Probably wouldn’t have affected the game as we made too many errors, had no momentum and we were on the back foot defending for most of the game.”