Daly Cherry-Evans responded to his State of Origin axing by playing a key role as Manly lifted themselves off the bottom of the NRL table in a 28-16 win over Cronulla.
Cherry-Evans killed off any hope of a Sharks comeback in the second half when he punched through a hole to score, just a few plays after soccering the ball through to give his side prime field position.
Although his day was mixed - he kicked out on the full in the first half but it failed to be costly - he provided valuable support as veteran fullback Brett Stewart spearheaded victory by setting up three four-pointers.
Cherry-Evans endured his share of scrutiny this week and will have to put up with the spotlight for another seven days as he gets set to face the Gold Coast for the first time since famously back-tracking on an agreement to join them next year.
Manly's left side ran riot, running in four of the Sea Eagles' five tries with winger Jorge Taufua picking up a hat-trick.
Cherry-Evans' halves partner Kieran Foran, fresh from confirming he will join Parramatta next year, was solid, setting up Taufua's second try with a kick.
The Sea Eagles could end the round as high as 14th after leapfrogging Newcastle and the Wests Tigers - however, Jason Taylor's team can edge back ahead with a win over Parramatta on Monday night.
Manly need to win seven of their final nine matches to be in finals contention but coach Geoff Toovey was not popping the champagne just yet.
"We're not used to being down here (near the bottom of the ladder)," he said.
"It's a very close competition as we all know.
"Any team can win on the day and we need to start putting a few wins in a row together.
"If we do that, we're a good chance of sneaking into the top eight hopefully."
Missing captain Paul Gallen to NSW Origin duty and suspended hooker Michael Ennis, the Sharks were undisciplined as their three-game winning streak was halted.
Manly led 10-4 at halftime but the Sea Eagles powered away in the second 40 minutes, with their left side striking just five minutes after the break when Stewart put in a neat kick for Taufua who offloaded for Steve Matai to score.
After his side knocked over title contenders Sydney Roosters and North Queensland in previous weeks, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan lamented his side's lack of consistency.
"If you win three or four in a row you're doing well. But you need to put big blocks of three and four (wins) together and we haven't been doing that," he said.
"If we turned up and played like we did last week then we would have got the two points."