Titans defeat Manly in controversial finish

A controversial final minute deicison has seemingly cost the Manly Sea Eagles victory this afternoon at Skilled Park, the Gold Coast Titans awarded a final-minute penalty for an 18-17 win in front of 16,126 supporters.

The round 11 instalment of Sunday football stayed close throughout, the home side opening the scoring through Mat Rogers. It was all Manly shortly after however, two tries putting the visitors up 10-6 after fifteen minutes.

The Titans were able to level the scores at 10-all after 25 minutes, Kevin Gordon ducking over from dummy-half, but Scott Prince unable to convert. Both teams controlled the ball well right up until the halftime siren, but no further points were registered.

The second half remained scoreless for almost twenty minutes as handling errors began creeping into the game, a number of errors costing both sides tryscoring opportunities. The 58th minute finally saw Manly pull into the lead, Matt Orford fooling the defence and getting over near to the posts. Lyon's conversion placed the visitors six points clear, but Titans forward Ashley Harrison would have none of it, clearing two defenders before crashing over the line. Prince's conversion brought the scores level once again and set up a tense and thrilling final ten minutes.

Sea Eagles' halfback Matt Orford tried once unsuccessfully to fool the Gold Coast defenders, feigining a drop-goal attempt to go wide but poor handling brought that move undone. Another set one minute later saw Orford have the field goal shot and he was successful, putting his side one point up with five minutes remaining. Then it all turned sour.

Preston Campbell grubbered through the Manly line 30 metres out and continued to poke it forward, and then took a tumble. Matt Orford was seemingly penalised for taking out Campbell when it would appear the Titans fullback fell of his own accord. Radio reports immediately following the game have suggested the call may be unrelated but the aftermath seems to point to an incorrect decision from Matt Cecchin and that will remain a talking point for years to come.

The win is a lucky one in two ways for the Titans as they will earn another two points from next weeks bye. Manly will also have a week's rest, but have missed out on a four point boost.

Match Details Gold Coast Titans 18 def Manly Sea Eagles 17 Round 11 - Sunday May 24th, 2009 03:00pm Venue: Skilled Park Referees: Tony Archer & Matt Cecchin Sideline Officials: Paul Holland & Gavin Reynolds Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 16,126 Halftime: 10 all

Gold Coast Titans 18 Tries: Mat Rogers, Kevin Gordon, Ashley Harrison Goals: Scott Prince (3/4) Manly Sea Eagles 17 Tries: Tony Williams, Chris Bailey, Matt Orford Field Goals: Matt Orford (1/1) Goals: Jamie Lyon (2/3)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) 2 Points: Mat Rogers (Titans) 1 Point: Chris Bailey (Sea Eagles)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Titans v Sea Eagles forum discussion - click here!

Skilled Park's surface is remarkably good given the weather issues in South-East Queensland over the past seven days, and it is the venue for today's clash between the Gold Coast Titans and Manly Sea Eagles. The home side has dropped to eighth in the past fortnight after spending the first two months among the top four, while the visiting Sea Eagles have begun turning it all around in recent weeks after a turbulent start to the season.

Both team line-up have a few changes - nobody is out, but both sides have made some bench changes. They are as follows:

TITANS: 1. Preston Campbell 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Esikeli Tonga 4. Brett Delaney 17. William Zillman 6. Mat Rogers 7. Scott Prince 8. Luke Bailey 9. Nathan Friend 10. Michael Henderson 11. Anthony Laffranchi 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Ashley Harrison Interchange: 5. Chris Walker 14. Will Matthews 15. Brad Meyers 16. Luke O'Dwyer SEA EAGLES: 1. Michael Robertson 2. David Williams 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 21. Tony Williams 6. Chris Bailey 7. Matt Orford 15. Jason King 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 17. Shane Rodney 13. Glenn Stewart Interchange: 8. Brent Kite 12. Glenn Hall 14. Heath L'Estrange 16. George Rose

Kickoff in the next five minutes, stay tuned.

First half kickoff: Play begins, Manly with first possession.

2 min: A strong start from the Manly side sees them go on the attack early.

3 min: Titans' winger William Zillman takes the ball in-goal... no, the referee rules it's in the field of play and he's forced in goal. From the drop-out, Sea Eagles' second-rower Anthony Watmough coughs it up and the Titans escape the pressure.

6 min: PENALTY Titans - Glenn Stewart and Shane Rodney up-end Mat Rogers and it's deemed dangerous. Just inside the Manly half, the Titans will attack.

8 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The penalty takes the Titans deep inside the attacking zone and Mat Rogers is able to slice through the defensive line with ease. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 6-0

10 min: Manly on the attack now after a great break from Orford. A loose pass is touched by the Titans, six to go. Kevin Gordon then goes for the intercept but he spills it as well, Manly will have some good attacking football here.

12 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles The Sea Eagles use the numbers out wide and it's Tony Williams who'll score Manly's first today. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 6-4

14 min: PENALTY Sea Eagles - Zillman's attempted a strip for the Titans but there's teammates in the tackle with him as the ball is ripped from Anthony Watmough's hands. Another attacking chance for the visitors now...

15 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Manly take the lead as Chris Bailey takes on the line successfully and crosses! Great try. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Sea Eagles 10-6

17 min: PENALTY Sea Eagles - Brett Delaney has hammered the kickoff dead, the Titans are imploding here!

19 min: PENALTY Titans - as they work it out of their own half they get a piggy-back penalty with Manly players laying around too long on the tackled player.

21 min: The Titans force a line drop-out now as the momentum begins to change. Credit to Manly's defence, lots of vigour so far. Knock-on by William Zillman now though, puts an end to the Titans run.

23 min: PENALTY Titans - Preston Campbell makes metres up field off a line break but the Manly defence wants to hold him back. Archer says no thanks and it's a penalty to the home side.

24 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Titans try - Esi Tonga gets within a metre and at dummy-half it looks like Kevin Gordon has gotten over the line...

25 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Fantastic foresight from Kevin Gordon to duck over from dummy-half to score a try underneath the Manly defenders. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. 10 all

28 min: The Sea Eagles have some possession now after a period of Titans dominance. Both teams completing their sets well.

30 min: Manly come up with a knock on with a try going begging.

33 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Titans try... Esi Tonga claiming a try, looks like he's out of the field of play though. NO TRY.

38 min: Both teams having sizeable shots at the line over the last few minutes but no points forthcoming.

40 min: Manly have one last chance before the siren but nothing comes of it and we'll go to halftime.

HALFTIME: Gold Coast Titans 10 Manly Sea Eagles 10 A cracking first half with both teams giving it 110%. Great ball movement from both sides and good completion rates from both sides. The kicking and passing games have been fantastic and this is literally too close to call, both the Titans and Sea Eagles playing very well.

The teams trot back out onto Skilled Park for another half of rugby league, should be a fantastic second forty.

Second half kickoff: Play restarts, Gold Coast with first possession.

41 min: PENALTY Sea Eagles - and then a Titans player compounds it by backchatting and they're marched another ten metres.

43 min: Great defence sees the Titans backs force Manly winger Michael Robertson into touch and the pressure is relieved on the Titans now.

44 min: INJURY - Manly centre Steve Matai is wincing and hobbling out on the park, looks like some leg trouble. He's now off the field.

46 min: An incredible break from Anthony Watmough brings the Sea Eagles close to the line but they can't bustle their way over in the remaining tackles this set. The Titans work it away now.

48 min: Another Manly attacking raid is dudded when Orford and Bailey combine to spill the ball on the fifth.

50 min: Scott Prince finishes a Titans' set with a towering bomb but there's no pressure on Michael Robertson and he fields it with ease.

52 min: Handling errors creeping into this one here, one from the Titans gives Manly a great chance to score, but a few plays later they drop it as well.

55 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Sea Eagles try to Tony Williams, looks like he's lost it. Earlier, Kevin Gordon made a fantastic mess of a Matt Orford bomb and knocked it on. For Williams though it's NO TRY and the Titans get the ball.

56 min: PENALTY Titans - laying around the play-the-ball sees the visitors penalised and now the Gold Coast will charge at Manly's line.

58 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Manly on the attack... and Matt Orford comes up with a great individual try - it's all too easy for him! Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Sea Eagles 16-10

61 min: A bizarre series of events sees David Williams with the ball for Manly after a lucky bounce off the toe of Esi Tonga, he makes a break but some great cover defence from Preston Campbell stops his run. Watmough then loses the ball in a great tackle from Scott Prince.

63 min: The Titans force Michael Robertson in-goal off a pinpoint Scott Prince kick.

65 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Ashley Harrison brushes off two defenders after receiving a Scott Prince short-ball, and crashes over for a solid try. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. 16 all

CROWD: 16,126

67 min: PENALTY Titans - Anthony Watmough messing around in the ruck costs his side a penalty.

68 min: Chris Walker finds his foot in touch and a Titans attacking opportunity goes begging.

71 min: Glenn Stewart knocks the ball on with Manly heavy on the attack.

72 min: Mark Minichiello has stuffed up the play-the-ball, it's Manly's ball 30m out.

74 min: INJURY - Minichiello's knee doesn't look good, he'll have to come from the field... but he's electing to stay out there...

75 min: The Titans have dropped the ball in their own half again, Manly will attack.

75 min: FIELD GOAL Manly Sea Eagles Matt Orford stands deep and sets it perfectly... Manly are up by one! Manly Sea Eagles 17-16

77 min: Lyon knocks on for Manly with a try certain to be scored. ROGERS IS AWAY! He's dragged down short of halfway though. The Titans with a last roll of the dice now.

78 min: PENALTY Titans - ten metres out, right in front. Preston Campbell grubbers for the line, soccers it along the ground, Campbell's been tripped on the way to the ball according to the referee. Orford's blowing up. Controversy at Skilled Park, the Titans will win through a penalty goal in very dubious circumstances.

79 min: PENALTY GOAL Gold Coast Titans Prince converts the penalty and gives the Titans what should be certain victory. Gold Coast Titans 18-17

80 min: The Titans with the ball wind down the clock. Game, set, match.

FULLTIME: Gold Coast Titans 18 Manly Sea Eagles 17 This will be talked about for weeks to come, the Gold Coast edging Manly out near fulltime with a controversial penalty awarded in favour of Preston Campbell as he toed the ball ahead in the final two minutes. Outside that - a fantastic game where one might even say the better team lost.