St George Illawarra survived a massive scare as they left it late to down a brave Manly side 12-10 on Saturday night.
And Manly were denied a late chance to send the game to golden-point extra-time, with Tim Lafai clearly impeding Reuben Garrick right on full-time as the Manly winger contested a high kick on the Dragons' goal line.
The Dragons scored their fourth win in a row thanks to Mikaele Ravalawa's try with two minutes to play to break the Sea Eagles' hearts.
Manly, without star fullback Tom Trbojevic through injury and dynamic prop Addin Fonua-Blake through suspension, looked on course for a famous victory as they led 10-8 as the clocked ticked over to 78 minutes.
But as blunt as they had been offensively, the Dragons found a way to steal victory thanks to Ben Hunt's pin point grubber kick.
St George Illawarra will now set their sights on Thursday's Anzac Day clash with reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground in what is arguably the biggest regular season match on the calendar.
In a week where the club announced the re-signing of coach Paul McGregor until the end of the 2021 season, the Dragons took the lead through a Lafai penalty goal after eight minutes.
St George Illawarra were out to an 8-0 lead when Matt Dufty crossed for a converted try after 16 minutes but allowed Manly into the game with a number of handling errors.
Whether it was the absence of Trbojevic, the Dragons' disciplined defensive structure or a combination of the two, the Sea Eagles looked unable to really test St George Illawarra's line despite enjoying the bulk of field position and possession.
Which is why the Dragons will have been so disappointed to concede a try to Brad Parker just after the half hour mark, as Daly Cherry-Evans orchestrated a clever short side raid.
The match was billed as the battle of the two Queensland No.7s and Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt showed why they are considered among the elite halfbacks in the NRL as they attempted to control the game with astute kicking games.
And it looked as though Cherry-Evans had his side on course for a famous win when he scored under the posts on 58 minutes after a miraculous Corey Waddell pass through his own legs.
Lafai was enduring a tough night with the boot as he missed a pair of penalty goal attempts.
But they wouldn't prove costly as the Dragons got out of jail thanks to Ravalawa's try late on.
The match at WIN Stadium was the Dragons' last at home for three weeks as St George Illawarra prepare for a trio of tricky away trips against the Roosters, Parramatta and the New Zealand Warriors.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12 (Matt Dufty, Mikaele Ravalawa tries. Tim Lafai two goals)
Manly Sea Eagles 10 (Brad Parker, Daly Cherry-Evans tries. Daly Cherry-Evans goal)
at WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Leader man of the match: Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
Dragons' next three: Roosters (away), Eels (away), Warriors (away)