A superb first half has seen the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record four straight wins tonight after round six of the Telstra Premiership.
Four first half tries saw the Sea Eagles lead 24-4 at half-time before holding off a late comeback from the Gold Coast Titans to win 26-18 in front of a great home crowd of 16,220 at 4 Pines Park.
Captain and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans and second-rower Haumole Olakau'atu were outstanding in the first half that saw the Sea Eagles run in four tries with Olakau'atu scoring a double.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Titans
After a fairly even first 10 minutes, the Sea Eagles opened the scoring when Olakau’atu scored from a well-placed Cherry-Evans kick. It was Olakauátu's third straight try. Garrick converted for a 6-0 lead.
With 21 minutes played, the Sea Eagles were in again as Garrick dived over on the left edge for his third try of the season. Five-eighth Kieran Foran played him in, holding the ball up perfectly to find the full-back with a gap in the defence to score untouched. Garrick converted his own try for a 12-0 lead.
Winger Jason Saab looked to have had the side's third try minutes later but was denied by the bunker on a pushing call.
With the field advantage, the Sea Eagles were in again in the 30th minute for their third with Olakau’atu grabbing his second after burrowing underneath two defenders off a pass from dummy half after being denied a minute earlier. Garrick converted for an 18-0 lead.
The Titans scored four minutes later through full-back Jamayne Isaako. Half-back Toby Sexton hit the upright for an 18-4 scoreline.
Experienced Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran scored his 50th NRL try when 'Foz' ran the ball down the left edge to throw as dummy to slip pass a defender to score in the 38th minute. Garrick converted for a 24-4 lead at half-time.
Gold Coast had two tries in a seven minute period in the second half from the 50th minute with centre Brian Kelly and second-rower David Fifita going over. Sexton was unsuccessful with both attempts for a 24-12 scoreline with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Manly were once again unfortunate not to get back on the scoresheet. Foran kicked cross-field in attempts to find the flying Olakau’atu, only to have the ball snatched out of his hands by a desperate Titans player. The kick followed a strong attacking set which had moments that could’ve resulted in a try. With fifteen minutes of play remaining, hooker Lachlan Croker was forced from the field after a referee stoppage due to a HIA.
The Titans were in again in the 64th minute through lock Tino Fa’asuamaleaui as he broke through the line to dive over next to the posts. Sexton converted his first try to take the score to 24-18.
Two minutes later, Manly young gun Tolu Koula rushed up out of the line and followed the ball to force an error with a massive shot and high pressure as the Titans tried to shift the ball left. In the same set, forward Sean Keppie was unfortunately forced from the field with a HIA. Two minutes later, the two try hero Olakau’atu went down and was unfortunately forced off with a leg injury.
The Sea Eagles surged downfield with just under ten minutes remaining as Cherry-Evans broke through the line with a dummy pass, giving himself some space to put in a cross-field kick for winger Christian Tuipulotu, which was unfortunately too deep.
Round 6: Post Match Press Conference
In the 74th minute, Manly hooker Karl Lawton attempted to dive over from dummy half and appeared to have knocked the ball on. A successful Captain’s Challenge overturned that decision and the home side was awarded a penalty due to an offside Titans player getting involved in the tackle attempt. Cherry-Evans converted for an eight-point lead.
The Titans attempted a short kick-off but didn’t make the ten metres, handing the Sea Eagles possession deep inside Gold Coast’s territory. Koula was unlucky not to score the first try of his career on the right edge as he was stopped short by some last-ditch defence. The centre was forced from the field moments later for a HIA due to the contact received to his head whilst attempting to ground the ball.
The Titans seemed to have scored a try in the final minute of the match, only for the bunker to overturn the decision, with the Sea Eagles holding onto the lead in a tight affair.
The Sea Eagles now play the Sharks in Round 7 of the NRL Telstra Premiership on Thursday April 21, 7.50pm, at Pointsbet Stadium in Cronulla.