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Manly resists Titans comeback to record fourth rotation win




Manly survived a late Titans charge to earn his fourth victory on the spin in a 26-18 upside-down clash at 4 Pines Park.

Not for the first time, the Gold Coast defended too poorly to win against a decent side – which Manly, while perhaps not level with the front four, certainly is – and left far too much behind. to do in the second stanza.

Last week they trailed Parramatta 14-0 at the break and this week was even worse, going down 24-4 points at the break. Justin Holbrook will watch his team’s second half again and wonder what would have been possible if they weren’t constantly on the upswing.

It was a game that revealed the differences between the halves: AJ Brimson and Toby Sexton, aged 21 and 19 and with 76 freshman games between them, were too often caught playing side by side.

Their counterparts, Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran, are 33 and 31 and have over 500 games in the top tier. When things were going well, they made hay, and when the Titans came back into the game, they knew how to kill moose.

The Titans are becoming a fairly easy team to play against: if you can complete high and shoot well, their defense is likely to give you the opportunity to score points.

This was the case for Manly. They were unspectacular, but had the class to take the points when offered and then the intelligence in the second half to stop a Titans charge.

It was far from an 80-minute performance, but it’s hard to argue much with an 86% completion rate – 92% in the first half – and 60% territory.

Manly ran out of the traps. Daly Cherry-Evans at Haumole Olakau’atu is quickly becoming football’s most familiar path, and he was again trodden for the first of the night, and the back rower’s third in three games.

It was already getting worrying. Manly missed a chance with the numbers in their favor down the left, but moments later the ongoing defensive issues with the Titans were further exposed with Reuben Garrick walking around intact.

Maybe it was even more. Jason Saab was robbed of a first try of the year by the bunker and Olakau’atu was denied by a miraculous tackle from Jamayne Isaako.

It wouldn’t last. The tall back rower caught his fourth of the year from close range on a clever pass from Lachlan Crocker.

The Titans needed something fast and got it. David Fifita left a handprint on Brad Parker and kicked the ball out, making room for Isaako to put the Queenslanders on the board.

Not that it mattered. The Titans right-edge defense is near the worst in the NRL and tracked everyone but the man on the ball, leaving Kieran Foran to add a fourth before half-time.

After the break, the Gold Coast came out firing. For the first extended time in the match, they dominated in field position and possession.

Manly pushed them back a few times, but eventually Brian Kelly fought back after a kick from Toby Sexton caused chaos.

The Titans have a knack for gathering points fast and it was rolling now, with David Fifita using an offload from Patrick Herbert to get his way.

This has not been done. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui blasted a huge gap through the center of Manly’s defense, thanks to a deft pass from Will Smith, and the Titans were one converted try away.

Manly was now collapsing at the seams. Sean Keppie was taken out for an HIA and Olakau’atu had to leave with a cramp. They needed the full-time whistle, but failing that, they stole every available second.

Cherry-Evans spotted a penalty the officials missed, challenged it and scored it himself, taking all the time in the world in the process.

Beau Fermor had a wiped try with thirty seconds to go, but not for the first time, the Titans had let themselves go too far.




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