Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a 44-24 loss to the Gold Coast Titans today at Cbus Super Stadium in round 22 of the Telstra Premiership.
Needing a win to stay alive in the race to the finals, the match marked Des Hasler's 300th game as Sea Eagles Coach with Manly bolstered with the return of centre Brad Parker from a broken hand.
A moment of silence was held prior to kick-off in remembrance of former player and Cowboys premiership winning coach Paul Green.
Manly kicked off the match and immediately won the ball back following an error from Gold Coast forward Jaimin Jolliffe who dropped the ball with the opening run.
The Sea Eagles appeared to have scored in the fifth minute after a barging run from second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu. Unfortunately, the play was called back to the middle of the field after a bunker review ruled that the ball was knocked on in the lead up to the try.
With their first possession in Manly’s 20 metres, the Titans scored through Jaimin Jolliffe after an offload from Jarrod Wallace. Halfback Tanah Boyd converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles hit back with a great passing play leading to a try to fullback Reuben Garrick four minutes later. Winger Jason Saab drew the Titans fullback in and passed to Garrick who went over untouched under the posts. Andrew Davey, Kieran Foran and Brad Parker were integral in the lead-up to the play, each finding gaps and dragging the defence with well-timed passes to set up the try. Garrick converted his own four pointer to level the scores at 6-all.
Sea Eagles utility Dylan Walker was sin-binned for a high tackle only 44 seconds after making his way onto the field. With the man advantage, the Titans regained the lead thanks to a try from winger Jojo Fifita in the 21st minute. Boyd, who set up the try with a cut-out pass, converted from the sideline for a 12-6 lead.
Manly enforcer Jake Trbojevic crashed over for a try four minutes after fooling the defence with a fabulous dummy. Garrick converted to once again level the scores at 12-all.
Gold Coast centre Brian Kelly intercepted a pass from Cherry-Evans to score a long-range try in the 31st minute. Boyd converted from in front to give his side an 18-12 lead. Three minutes earlier, Davey was forced from the field for the Sea Eagles due to a HIA, with Josh Schuster replacing him.
The home side forced Manly into back-to-back drop-outs after a period of high pressure and several near chances. Cherry-Evans kicked the ball out on the full in the 37th minute with Boyd converting a penalty goal for a 20-12 lead at half-time.
The Sea Eagles started the second half with the ball as Davey returned to the field following his HIA in the latter stages of the first half. Off the back of a penalty, the Titans had their fourth try in the 45th minute through second-rower Beau Fermor. Five-eighth Alexander Brimson put a kick through that ricocheted into the flying second-rower who dived over for a try. Boyd converted from the sideline to take the score to 26-12.
Manly were thankful not to concede another after an attacking set from the Gold Coast and Alexander Brimson, who took a quick tap and bolted around 50 metres downfield. The five-eighth was tackled not too far from the line but his side wasn’t able to finish their attack, as Sea Eagles prop Tofofoa Sipley dived onto a kick to win the ball back.
Gold Coast scored tries in the 54th and 57th minute through Alexander Brimson and David Fifita. Boyd successfully converted both attempts to leave the score at 38-12. Following a short attempt from the kick-off, Saab was unfortunately taken from the field with a reported knee injury.
In his return game, Brad Parker got one back for the Sea Eagles with a try in the 61st minute. The centre spun out of a tackle at the ten metre line and slid over with momentum to ground the ball on the line for his first try since Round 22 of the 2021 season, exactly a year to date. Garrick converted for a 38-18 scoreline.
Manly were in once again with just over ten minutes to play through Tolutau Koula. Schuster ran at the line and threw one of his trademark no-look passes to Foran, who drew and passed to Koula, who ran in field to ground the ball near the post. Garrick converted to take the score to 38-24.
Olakau’atu flattened Tanah Boyd with a bone-rattling tackle inside the Sea Eagles ten metre line as Koula safely caught a high kick on the last tackle to keep out the Titans.
With just over four minutes remaining, Walker made a massive break through the line with a strong run and found himself 2-on-1 with a forward alongside him. Unfortunately, this chance was scuppered as Sipley over ran the play and knocked the ball on from Walker’s pass.
The Titans had the final say on the match with a second try from Fermor in the 79th minute to close out the match. Boyd converted from in front for a final scoreline of 44-24, bringing an end to the match and ultimately the Sea Eagles season.
Manly play the Cronulla Sharks in a triple-header at 4 Pines Park in Round 23 of the NRL Telstra Premiership on Saturday August 20, 5.30pm.