Tom Trbojevic.
Tom Trbojevic had an unusually sloppy night but still scored twice as Manly saw off the Titans. Image by Jason O'BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Titans gallant but Des still winless after Manly clash

Jasper Bruce April 20, 2024

Des Hasler’s first season at Gold Coast is on a knife edge after his old firm Manly broke the Titans’ hearts for a 34-30 win at Cbus Super Stadium.

The Titans came up with their best attacking performance of Hasler’s short coaching tenure on Saturday night but nevertheless remain winless through seven rounds and sit two points adrift at the bottom of the ladder.

“They’re trying really hard. I’ve got to state that publicly,” Hasler said of his playing group.

“The effort is there. But it’s not appearing on the scoreboard, nor is it appearing on the ladder.

“No one remembers this game, just the result and where we are.”

Gold Coast were competitive all game, as Hasler threatened to have the last laugh over the Sea Eagles, who remain entangled in a legal battle with their former coach over his 2022 termination.

Halfback Kieran Foran, himself a former Sea Eagle, was as good as a player can be in a losing effort, helping the Titans turn in a gallant showing.

Kieran Foran of Gold Coast.
 Kieran Foran put in an imperious display for the losing Titans. Image by Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS 

The scorecard filled up as each side gave up its share of silly penalties, made errors coming out of trouble and leaked simple tries. The hectic encounter featured 11 tries and six lead changes.

But when the game shifted key and became an arm-wrestle in its final quarter, the Sea Eagles held their foes at bay.

“We came here tonight without guys like Josh Aloiai (suspended), Nathan Brown, Tof Sipley and Benny Trbojevic (injured) so there was a big hole in our forward pack,” Manly coach Anthony Seibold said.

“It wasn’t going to be pretty. We just had to find a way, and we found a way.”

Hasler has now lost 13 consecutive games as head coach across the start of his stint with the Titans and the end of his time at Manly.

His side will have their work cut out not to let their rivals get away, with the Warriors – in Auckland – and Melbourne awaiting in the next fortnight.

Gold Coast Titans players during the match against Manly.
 Gold Coast remain winless, despite pushing Manly for spells on Saturday. Image by Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS 

The Titans looked set for another tough night when Manly tore their left edge to pieces in consecutive sets and raced to a 10-0 lead after 10 minutes.

But, inspired by Foran, they struck back down the same side; the 33-year-old looping a pass to Alofiana Khan-Pereira for the Titans’ first, with the winger again the beneficiary when the No.7 put Brian Kelly into space.

Foran saved his best for the final minutes of the half, putting a kick in-field for AJ Brimson, who flew above Tom Trbojevic to notch a beautiful try.

Daly Cherry-Evans had an uncharacteristically quiet night for Manly and while fullback Tom Trbojevic scored a double and ran 196 metres, he too came up with some uncharacteristically sloppy moments with the ball.

Tries either side of halftime, the second following an intercept from Tolu Koula, kept Manly humming but the Titans refused to fold.

An Ethan Bullemor crash play ended the skirmish with 25 minutes to play and helped the Sea Eagles remain in the top eight.

“I felt for (the players) tonight,” Hasler said.

“We were probably in a position to win that game a couple of times.”