Brendan Wood reviews the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles tough win over a fast finishing Gold Coast Titans, 26-18 on Saturday night.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26
Tries: Haumole Olakau’atu (12, 31) Reuben Garrick (22), Kieran Foran (39)
Goals: Reuben Garrick (13, 24, 33, 40) Daly Cherry-Evans (74)
Gold Coast Titans 18
Tries: Jamayne Isaako (35), Brian Kelly (51), David Fifita (57), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (65)
Goals: Toby Sexton (66)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Playing in front of a full house at 4 Pines Park, it was the Titans who applied the early pressure. Manly were ill-disciplined, giving away some ruck penalties. Still with plenty of energy, the home side were able to fend off the advances of the Titans without conceding.
It didn’t take long for Manly to receive a penalty of their own to flip the script. They forced a goal-line drop out and with their second attacking set, they found first points. Daly Cherry-Evans had the ball on a string as he grubbered into the in-goal for Haumole Olakau’atu to score.
Following the first try, the Titans gifted Manly another golden opportunity. They lost the ball early in the count and gave away a six again not long after. With the possession weighing heavily against the Titans, Manly struck again. Reuben Garrick sliced through a gap out wide to grab a try and converted to extend the lead to 12 points.
Manly went close to scoring again just minutes later through Jason Saab, but the bunker denied them after Saab pushed a Titan in the back to get to the ball. More ill-discipline from the Titans followed, with another penalty piggy-backing Manly back into attacking position.
Off the back of sustained pressure, Haumole Olakau’atu bulldozed his way into the in-goal, only to be held up by AJ Brimson. Just two tackles later, Olakau’atu again charged through a gap and scored his second try in emphatic fashion.
Within five minutes of halftime, the Titans finally found a response. David Fifita bumped away from two tackles and offloaded to Jamayne Isaako, who found his way to the line for a try. Just as quickly as they had scored, the Titan’s work was undone as they knocked-on deep in their own half.
Gifted another chance, Manly pounced when Kieran Foran brushed through a tackle to land a try in the shadows of the break.
HALF-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24 Gold Coast Titans 4Embed from Getty Images
Both sides traded attacking sets after the break. The Titans needed to be the first to score and they did just that. Toby Sexton put up a cross-field kick and AJ Brimson regathered. He passed to Brian Kelly who got an overlap and scored in the corner.
With more possession at their disposal, the Titans went to their x-factor. David Fifita carved a hole in the right edge defence of Manly and got over for a try. Toby Sexton failed to convert for a third time as the lead stayed at 12.
After leaking two tries in a row, Manly looked shaky with the Titans responding strongly. Surging with confidence, the visitors had another try less than 10 minutes later. Will Smith threw a short pass to Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who stormed through the line and scored to cut the lead to just six.
As the game progressed into the final 10 minutes, fatigue began to set in. Both sides lost players to injury as the game sat posed on a knife’s edge. Eventually it was Manly who got the lucky break when they were awarded a penalty right in front. It was an easy decision for Daly Cherry-Evans who converted the penalty goal.
The Titans descended into desperation footy. They offloaded at will and threw the ball around as they searched for a way to keep the game alive. They looked to have scored a miraculous try in the last minute when Beau Fermor dived on a Toby Sexton kick. However, the bunker denied any chance of a comeback.
On replay, Fermor was ruled to be in front of Sexton, which all but ended the game as Manly survived a Titans fightback to record an eight point win.
FULL-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26 Gold Coast Titans 18
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Haumole Olakau’atu (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), 2 pts – David Fifita (Gold Coast Titans), 1 pt – Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
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