Titans show grit in win over Manly
Saturday 23 March 2013 7:01 PM
A grinding defensive effort has helped guide a depleted iSelect Gold Coast Titans side to a spirited 16-14 victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Skilled Park tonight.
The Titans overcame the loss of 80-minute forward Ashley Harrison (heavy concussion) and centre Brad Takairangi (hamstring) with 20 minutes remaining to hold off a fast finishing Manly outfit in a tense finish.
A penalty goal to Aidan Sezer late in the match sealed the victory for the home side, after scores were locked at 14-all in a thrilling finale.
Coming up against the undefeated Sea Eagles, the Titans defence was on
full-alert and kept Manly’s strike weapons at bay, with only a Sezer penalty-goal separating the two-sides at the half-time break.
But the Titans two-point lead came at a price, losing Harrison
for the remainder of the match to a concussion.
Despite the loss of Harrison, the Titans displayed their attacking ability in the opening stanza of the second-half and quickly scooted out to a 14-0 lead through tries to Ryan James and David Mead.
But the loss of Harrison was compounded late in the match with centre Brad Takairangi also leaving the field with a hamstring injury, forcing the Titans into a backline reshuffle and Manly’s attacking prowess took full advantage to score three quick tries and tie the game up at 14-all.
The Titans were gifted a shot at goal directly in front after a Manly goal-line drop out went out on the full, and with five minutes remaining it was Sezer's penalty goal which handed the Titans their second win from three matches to start the year.
iSelect Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright said he was pleased with the team’s ability to come away with the win especially under the tough circumstances of losing two key players.
“There was a lot of high and lows, especially in the second-half, but to beat Manly at any time you’ve got to be doing something right and that was a good tough win,” Cartwright said.
“We had a bit of trouble in our interchange, with about 20 to go we lost another player in Takairangi who damaged a hamstring so we had to shift things around a bit, and Ben Ridge had to play in the centres so we got a bit lost there.
“Once they got some momentum it was hard to stop but to fight it back and then hit the front again was pleasing.
“The first half they threw a lot at us, the second-half when they got behind on the scoreboard a few passes stuck and they chanced their hand and it payed off for them.
“I think if we just could have come up with a turnover on them there when they were starting to ping that ball around that would could have really put the nail into them but it went there way and they got back in the game.”
iSelect co-captain Greg Bird said he was also proud of his side’s scrambling effort against such a dominant outfit like Manly, and it was also a good sign to see some of the younger players step up when needed.
“It does build a lot, we muscled out a perfect defensive game last week, but we knew it wasn’t going to be like that this week coming up against a team with the class of Manly,” Bird said.
“It blew out a little in the second-half but we just did enough to hold on.
“We just tried to complete, in those conditions that’s what wins game I think, getting the ball down the other end and trying not to give them too many opportunities on our try-line.
“It’s always hard when you lose a player, especially a player of his (Harrison) standard, he’s a regular 80 minute player and really holds a tight middle with his work ethic.
“It was disappointing to lose him but it made the other players who come in there Ryan James and the like really lifted and they’ll be better players for playing under the duress.
“Losing two players it’s always hard, we had back-rowers in the centres, fullbacks in the centres, halfbacks playing fullback, I was playing five-eighth, everyone was swapped around and we were really just trying to hold on there.”
The Titans had the run of possession early on winning back-to-back sets from two line drop-outs forced by pin-point kicks from Sezer, but the Manly defence proved up to the task, keeping the Titans at bay.
The boot of Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans turned the momentum in the away-side’s favour, with his 40/20 kick midway through the half to piggy-backing his side up the field, giving them prime attacking position.
But the Titans proved just as capable in defence with scrambling try-saving tackles from Kevin Gordon and Sezer forcing Manly winger David Williams to knock the ball on over the line.
The turning point of the half came in the 35th minute of the match when Harrison, playing in his 250th competition game, was hit by a late shoulder-charge by Richie Fa’ooso and forced from the field on the medi-cab with a heavy concussion.
With Fa’ooso being placed on report and the penalty going to the Titans, Sezer stepped up to slot the conversion and give the Titans a 2-0 half-time lead.
The Titans started the second-half in energetic fashion and posted the first try of the night in the 45th minute with Beau Falloon holding up a beautiful short-ball to a barnstorming Ryan James who crossed under the posts for his first NRL try.
With Sezer adding the extras from in-front the Titans lead 8-0.
The Titans continued to mount attacking pressure on Manly, and took advantage when David Mead pounced on a Albert Kelly grubber to cross out wide, with Sezer converting, the Titans lead 14-0 with just under 30 minutes remaining.
Manly took advantage of a poor kick-chase by the Titans to scoot down the field and turn a set from deep inside their own half into an attacking raid, and the Titans were made to pay when some lovely blind-side play resulted in winger Jorge Taufua crossing out wide.
But with Jamie Lyon unable to add the extras the Titans lead by 14-4.
The Titans made matters worse by kicking the ball out on the full from the kick off, gifting Manly prime attacking position and they capitalised through utility forward Tom Symonds who crossed out wide to reel the deficit back to 14-8 with 20 minutes remaining.
Manly continued their dominance down the Titans left edge and crossed out wide in the 71st minute when an inch-perfect Steve Matai grubber kick found Tafua out-wide for his second try, with Lyon converting from the side-line the scores were locked up at 14-all going into the final nine minutes.
Coming into the dying stages of the match, the Titans got in field-goal range, but were forced to settle for a line drop-out with Aidan Sezer's field-goal attempt being touched and going dead.
From the resulting drop-out, Manly’s Cherry-Evans kicked the ball out on the full gifting the Titans a penalty in front of the posts, and Sezer calmly landed the goal to give the Titans the 16-14 win.
Gold Coast Titans 16 (R James, D Mead; A Sezer 2 conversion; A Sezer 2 penalty goals) defeatedManly-Warringah Sea Eagles 14 (J Taufua 2, T Symonds; J Lyon 1 conversion). Crowd: 13168.