Sea Eagles hold off late Titans charge to make it four straight

Veteran playmakers Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran continued their hot start to 2022 as Manly survived a late scare from the Titans to win 26-18 at 4 Pines Park on Saturday.

Cherry-Evans and Foran had two try assists and three line break assists between them while the skipper's kicking game tormented the Titans' back three all night.

In front of a raucous home crowd of 16,220 it was Cherry-Evans who got the ball rolling in the 12th minute with a deft grubber for Haumole Olakau'atu to score.

The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when Jake Trbojevic and Kieran Foran combined on the left edge to give Reuben Garrick a saloon passage to the line.

Olakau'atu made it a double in the 31st minute when he stormed onto a short ball from Lachlan Croker and proved unstoppable from close range.

The Tirans pulled one back five minutes before the break when David Fifita powered through two defenders and delivered a flick pass to Jamayne Isaako who scored wide out.

The home team blew the score out to 24-4 when Foran took a pass from Cherry-Evans and dummied past two Titans tacklers to grab Manly's fourth.

Gold Coast set about working their way back in the 51st minute when Phil Sami flew high to tap a Toby Sexton kick down to AJ Brimson who lobbed a pass over to Brian Kelly for a try.

The visitors were in again in the 58th minute when Fifita disposed of Christian Tuipulotu and Foran on a trademark bullocking charge to the line and when skipper Tino Fa'asuamaleaui surged through in the 66th minute the margin had been cut to six.

Manly lost forward Sean Keppie for the final 12 minutes after he suffered a head knock and then Olakau'atu was also forced off with cramps as the Sea Eagles clung desperately to their lead.

A penalty against Fa'asuamaleaui for being offside right in front of the posts handed Cherr-Evans the chance to knock over two points and Manly had some breathing space at 26-18.

Beau Fermor looked to have pulled one back at the death for the Titans but an offside ruling in the lead-up play ensured there would be no miracle comeback for Justin Holbrook's men.

Match Snapshot

  • The Sea Eagles lost prop Josh Aloiai after just 14 minutes after he suffered a 'burner' to his right shoulder but he was able to return early in the second half after treatment.
  • Manly winger Reuben Garrick has scored 60 points (seven tries and 16 goals) in his last three games against the Titans.
  • Titans fullback Jamayne Isaako left the field two minutes before half-time for a HIA which he passed and was able to return.
  • Taniela Paseka stood tall for Manly in the absence for forward leader, getting through 18 runs for 180 metres with four tackle breaks.
  • Lachlan Croker was sent for a HIA with 15 minutes remaining after copping an accidental elbow from team-mate Sean Keppie as they attempted a tackle.
  • Gold Coast's four losses this season have been by a combined total of 20 points (4, 2, 6, 8).

Plays of the Game
In his 14th season of first grade Kieran Foran is playing some sensational footy for the Sea Eagles and the five-eighth bamboozled the Titans defence just before half-time with two dummies and a swerve en route to the 50th try of his career. The 31-year-old Kiwi has enjoyed an injury-free run since returning to Manly at the start of 2021 and is winding back the clock with his strong running close to the line and astute passing game.

There is no better sight in rugby league than David Fifita in full flight... unless you're a defender trying to stop him. For the second week in a row the 22-year-old skittled defenders and powered his way to the line for a morale-boosting try for his team. Centre Patrick Herbert was heavily involved in the lead-up and found hooker Erin Clark who delivered the ball to Fifita and there was no stopping him.




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What They Said
"Haumole Olakau'atu was great, the last month of footy he has been really dangerous and he will only get better." - Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler

"Similar to last week, to be honest. We didn't take any chances in the first half, didn't stop any of theirs, and then chased the game again. It doesn't make sense because we burn all our energy and then find a way to have a crack in the second half." - Titans coach Justin Holbrook 

What's Next
The Sea Eagles have a short turnaround before opening round seven against thr Sharks in a mouth-watering clash at PointsBet Stadium. Josh Schuster could well return from an ankle injury which would be a big boost for Manly.

The Titans get a couple of extra days' rest before they tackle the Cowboys in Townsville. Livewire fullback Jayden Campbell (ribs) is a chance to return. The Titans downed the Cowboys twice in 2021 with a combined score of 80-22.




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Martin Lenehan, Senior Journalist