In a round of NRL upsets, the Manly Sea Eagles have bucked the trend with a tough 16-12 victory over an uninspiring Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park.
Despite the close scoreline, the Sea Eagles were never really threatened in what was a typically gritty performance. Lock forward Glenn Stewart received LeagueUnlimited's Man of the Match Award, while winger Michael Robertson finished with style - he came up with two tries and a number of incisive runs.
The Titans were again flat in attack and, while their effort in defence can't be questioned, they struggled to find a way through the Manly defensive line.
Manly coach Des Hasler said he was relieved to take the two competition points and amazed by the toughness of half Kieran Foran, who was given a rough night by Titans wrecking ball Sam Tagataese.
"Our last two visits here haven't been very successful, so getting a win before a bye is always very handy. We played well enough to get the two points...I'm very happy for the players," he said at the post-game press conference.
"He (Foran) will need the two weeks off, he's been playing a bit wounded. Obviously they (Gold Coast) had a plan to rush him and they targeted him a little bit but he just keeps getting back up off the floor."
The match started in disastrous circumstances for the Titans, who conceded a try within the first sixty seconds after being penalised in their opening set for an incorrect play the ball. Manly winger David Williams proved the villian when he latched onto a Jamie Lyon flick to set up a four point lead for his side.
The Sea Eagles compounded the Gold Coast's poor start with another four-pointer in the 23rd minuted to Robertson, who was gifted a saloon passage to the corner after Joseph Tomane rushed off the line.
Prince sparked a brief late first half revival for the hosts when he dusted off the cobwebs to dance to the line and reduced the deficit to 10-6 at the break.
However, Manly continued to grind away and found reward when Robertson pounced on a loose ball to register his double after Prince stripped the ball from a surging Steve Matai one-on-one in the ingoal.
As was the case in the first stanza, the Titans rallied towards the end of the second and pulled off the try of the match thanks to some quick hands from the likes of Luke Bailey and Ryan James to set up an tense final nine minutes.
But the Manly defence proved too hard to crack in yet another tenacious effort.
Gold Coast Titans 12 were defeated by Manly Sea Eagles 16
National Rugby League - Round 10 - Monday May 16, 2011 7:00pm
Venue: Skilled Park
Referee: Gavin Badger and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Michael Wise and Henry Perenara
Halftime: Gold Coast Titans 6 Manly Sea Eagles 10
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Glenn Stewart
2 Points - Michael Robertson (2 Tries)
1 Point - William Hopoate
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Skilled Park this evening in what is an interesting matchup. The Titans have been dreadful so far this season, while Manly's consistency is their strength. However, Round 10 has been a weekend of upsets and I think the Titans are a real chance of continuing the trend.
Gold Coast snatched the Under 20s with a late try and goal to win 34-32.
Titans - Jo Tomane replaces Bodene Thompson in the centres and Sam Tagataese takes Ben Ridge's place on the bench.
Sea Eagles - Brett Stewart is again out injured, with Hopoate shifting to fullback and David Williams coming onto the wing. After being selected for NSW, Jason King is out, Rose moves to prop and Tim Robinson is the new man on the interchange.
1 min: Kick off! Manly get things started as Michael Henderson runs head first into the defence.
1 min: Titans penalised in possession for not playing to ball correctly and Manly get the first chance to attack.
1 min: TRY
After the Titans were penalised in possession, Manly strike in the first minute through David Williams off a nice flick from Jamie Lyon in the centres. Cherry-Evans fails to convert. Amazing start!
Manly Sea Eagles 4-0
4 min: Now the Sea Eagles get a penalty to help them out of their own end, terrible opening for the Coast.
7 min: Manly offloading almost at will at the moment, dangerous sgns for the home side already.
9 min: Greg Bird grubbers for the corner on the last and David Mead nearly gets around Will Hopoate at the back but the ball beats him dead.
10 min: Speaking of Bird, he's sporting a moustache tonight, it's definitely not suitable for anything other than Movemeber though.
13 min: The Titans force a repeat set via Prince, here's their chance to mount some pressure.
17 min: Gold Coast have been camped on the Manly for their last two sets but have barely threated - on the sixth, Prince kicks for the wing but Michael Robertson fields it easily.
20 min: It really hasn't been the Titans' night so far, Glenn Stewart gets caught on the last but squeezes an offload out only for the Gold Coast to knock it on..
21 min: A 'Maaanly' chant starts to echo around Skilled Park and now Scotty Prince drops it shaping to kick. Could it get any worse?
23 min: TRY
It does get worse. The Sea Eagles go wide with a simple play and Joseph Tomane comes in looking for the big tackle - he misses, and Michael Robertson has a free passage to the line. Cherry-Evans converts.
Manly Sea Eagles 10-0
27 min: The Sea Eagles' defence is just watertight currently, Titans struggling to crack the line and they're looking quite flat.
30 min: Ashley Harrison goes close to scoring and a knock-down from Anthony Watmough gives the Titans another chance right on the line.
31 min: TRY
Gold Coast TRY
They get over! Some vintage work from Scott Prince, who takes on the line and steps past some grabbing arms. Prince converts - that could be the spark they need.
Manly Sea Eagles 10-6
35 min: This game has just gone up a gear! Titans running with purpose but Manly still the more dangerous.
37 min: Esi Tonga nabs Glenn Stewart in a great one-on-one tackle.
39 min: Preston Campbell showing his age, ambles towards the line and then throws an offload forward.
40 min: The Titans enthusiasm has picked up but they're almost too excited, as Ashley Harrison fumbles in quest for a quick play the ball.
Halftime: Unusual first half, Manly were in control for the majority but that try to Prince hsa given the Titans some spark - still too many mistakes in their game though but in a round of upsets I wouldn't write them off just yet..
41 min: Second half alive and kicking!
41 min: A few holes in the Titans line already, Glenn Stewart almosts sends Will Hopoate through a gap in the ruck.
43 min: Sam Tagataese forces an error from Glenn Stewart - everyone gathers around and gives him a pat on the head.
45 min: Kieran Foran is absolutely hammered by Sam Tagataese, not sure how he's still standing after that one. Despite his silky smooth hair, Foran is one tough chap.
48 min: David Mead makes a meal of a bomb and Manly get the scrum right on the Titans line.
54 min: Joseph Tomane does very well to run down Michael Robertson but he gets penalised for the second effort to put him into touch.
55 min: Video referee - possible Manly try, strip or knock on is the question..
55 min: TRY
Steve Matai carries Scott Prince 15 metres towards the line before the halfback strips the ball over the line - unfortunately for the Titans, the ball is pounced on by Michael Robertson for his double. Cherry-Evans converts.
Manly Sea Eagles 16-6
59 min: Manly making easy metres up the middle and the Gold Coast seem powerless to stop them.
61 min: The Titans shift the ball from sideline to sideline, the Manly defence slides and pummels David Mead into touch.
64 min: Oh, Preston.. the Titans fullback fumbles in the simple act of picking up a grubber and Manly get a chance to attack again.
66 min: Michael Robertson nearly gets his hat trick! Finger tip stuff to latch onto a bomb but he loses contol on the way to the ground.
70 min: Crowd: 12,360
71 min: TRY
Gold Coast TRY
Stunning try from the Titans! They run it on the last before Scott Prince explodes through a hole, gets it to James, who gets it to Bailey - he then fires a looping pass out to Esikeli Tonga in the corner. Prince converts and this match is suddenly back on!
Manly Sea Eagles 16-12
73 min: Have Manly clocked off? If the Titans can pull off a win here they're miracle workers.
75 min: Titans looked to have forced the mistake but Luke Bailey is ruled to have hit Will Hopoate before he caught the ball. Correct call but it was very close.
78 min: Alright, Titans get a penalty and start their set on halfway. One last chance.
80 min: Scott Prince kicks cross field but it's ordinary and Robertson swoops on the ball to wrap things up for Manly.