Manly hold off spirited Gold Coast comeback to win THRILLER and seal fourth straight victory, after Titans rallied behind brilliant David Fifita
- Manly defeated Gold Coast 26-18 to make it four straight wins on Saturday
- Sea Eagles climbed up to fifth on the NRL ladder, while Titans remained 10th
- Gold Coast scored three straight tries in the second half but comeback fell short
- Reuben Garrick was brilliant for Manly in place of injured Tom Trbojevic
Manly have made it two straight NRL wins without superstar Tom Trbojevic as they repelled a David Fifita-inspired comeback to beat Gold Coast 26-18 at Brookvale.
After leading by 20 points at halftime, Manly looked at risk of collapsing in the second as the Titans ran in three straight tries.
But a late penalty was enough for the Sea Eagles to seal the victory on Saturday evening, turning around their poor start to the year to sit comfortably in fifth spot with four straight wins.
Manly made it four straight wins with a 26-18 victory over Gold Coast on Saturday
And notably they have done it for the past fortnight without Trbojevic.
Once considered the hardest man to replace in rugby league, the Sea Eagles have now won six of their last seven without Trbojevic dating back to last season.
Reuben Garrick was again brilliant deputising for Trbojevic at fullback, slicing through for a try of his own in the first half.
In a concern for coach Des Hasler, Garrick appeared to suffer a leg cork injury in the second half but soldiered on.
Haumole Olakau’atu was superb for Manly, racking up 121 metres from his 15 runs
Kieran Foran was one of the Sea Eagles’ four different try scorers at Brookvale
Manly took a commanding 24-4 lead at halftime and looked to be in complete control
Kieran Foran also bagged a try late in the first half when the Titans gave up possession from a kick off, while Haumole Olakau’atu was brutal on the right edge.
The second-rower bagged Manly’s first try when he ran onto a Daly Cherry-Evans grubberkick, and scored another when he barged his way over.
The Tongan star could easily have had another, held up by AJ Brimson and Jamayne Isaako just two plays before he bagged his second try.
He also ended the match injured with a leg problem, battling to walk from the field a week out from the Sea Eagles’ big clash with high-flying Cronulla.
David Fifita (second left) inspired Gold Coast’s much-improved performance in the second half
The Titans scored three unanswered tries but fell just short of completing their comeback
While Olakau’atu had 121 metres from his 15 runs, the Titans’ biggest issue remains getting his opposite number Fifita involved more.
The Titans’ million-dollar man looked dangerous on every touch, setting up a try in the first half when he twice bumped off Brad Parker to put Jamayne Isaako over.
He also scored one of his own in the second half, again bumping off defenders in the form of Christian Tuipulotu and Foran to charge over.
After a difficult start to the season, Manly have now climbed up to fifth on the ladder
But he only had 13 possessions, as the Titans went periods of the match without finding their danger man.
Brian Kelly and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui also scored second-half tries to make it a 24-18 game with 14 minutes to play, giving Gold Coast a genuine chance.
But when Fa’asuamaleaui was found to be offside after being caught in the ruck while helping to save a try with five minutes to play, Cherry-Evans was able to kick Manly clear.