A rejuvenated Manly Warringah Sea Eagles side recorded a dominant 36-0 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee today in round six of the Telstra Premiership.
In their finest, and biggest win, of the season, the Sea Eagles gained momentum early and piled on the points in an impressive first half performance to lead 26-0 at half-time and to leave the field to a standing ovation from delighted Manly fans.
The big win was a perfect way for the Sea Eagles to wrap up a great few days in Mudgee with the locals and plenty of travelling Manly Members enjoying the opportunity to watch the club’s home game.
Manly full-back Tom Trbojevic made a superb return from a hamstring injury in his first game for the season. He was influential with ball in hand, finishing the match with a great try and two try assists as he recorded 202 run metres.
The Sea Eagles gained a penalty in the fifth minute inside the Titans’ 20 metre line after being infringed in the play-the-ball, with winger Reuben Garrick slotting the conversion to grab the first points of the match.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Titans
Manly continued to steamroll down the field, making some strong runs through the forward pack. After the strong attacking set, the home side rushed up in defence, keeping Gold Coast just short of their try line before Sea Eagles centre Morgan Harper forced an error with a big shot on forward David Fifita.
Four minutes after the penalty goal, Sea Eagles centre Brad Parker scored with Tom Trbojecvic being influential in the build-up, holding up the ball before finding Parker with a silky pass. Garrick converted to extend the lead to 8-0.
Garrick grabbed a try for himself in the 17th minute as Manly continued to dominate. Croker made a massive tackle break through the middle of the field which got his side in optimal field position.
The ball was shifted to the left, as skilful back-rower Josh Schuster threw a cut-out pass to find the winger who snuck past defenders to find a few extra metres. Garrick nailed the conversion from the sideline to bring the score to 14-0.
Manly were successful with a captain’s challenge as winger Jason Saab was stripped of the ball. That penalty proved to be costly as Tom Trbojevic hit the gas in the 22nd minute and found open space off a Schuster pass to race away. Garrick converted from the sideline for a 20-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles were on fire as Saab scored two minutes later with lock Jake Trbojevic linking up with his brother, who again found himself in open space. Tommy Trbojevic drew in his opposite fullback Alexander Brimson before finding the young Manly winger, who raced away to score under the posts. Garrick converted to make the score 26-0 which Manly took into the break.
With four minutes played in the second half, Manly hit 30 points. Harper trapped an attempted grubber kick with his feet before racing away and handing it off to the blistering Saab, who grabbed his second try of the match. Garrick missed from the sideline as the score stayed at 30-0.
The Sea Eagles were successful with another captain’s challenge off the kick-off, as Saab was again confident that he didn’t make a mistake after he was said to have knocked the ball on.
Off a scrum at Manly’s 30 metre line, the Titans made a break down the right edge and were nearing the try line, only for Tom Trbojevic and Garrick to link up and take Pearson over the sideline.
Two penalties against Gold Coast inside their own ten metre line brought yet another opportunity for the Sea Eagle, only for a strong defensive effort from Brimson to take Garrick out as he attempted to ground the ball.
After a set restart in Manly’s half, the Titans had their best chance to score, only for second rower Kevin Proctor to drop the ball metres short of the line. The home side maintained their strength in defence, forming a maroon and white wall to shut out the Queensland side and force an error.
Garrick scored his second try of the match in the 63rd minute, diving over in the corner after taking a perfectly placed cut-out pass from five-eighth Kieran Foran. He converted his own try from the sideline for a 36-0 lead.
A one-on-one strip from replacement hooker Cade Cust with 13 minutes remaining kickstarted the next try opportunity. Cherry-Evans placed a grubber kick through and Harper went close to grabbing a try for himself, just missing out as he knocked the ball on in the process.
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Forward Sean Keppie had his first NRL try denied in the 77th minute, after the bunker ruled that Parker had batted the ball forward off a Foran cross-field kick.
The siren sounded for fulltime, with the score finishing 36-0 in favour of Manly. The victory saw the Sea Eagles keep a side scoreless away from Lottoland for the first time since 2014.
The Sea Eagles travel to Bankwest Stadium to play the Wests Tigers on ANZAC Day at 1.45pm next Sunday.