The Gold Coast Titans and Sydney Roosters have won their third round matches in contrasting circumstances in Saturday night NRL action.
In the first match of the evening, the Gold Coast Titans handed Manly their first defeat of the 2013 season, defeating the Sea Eagles 16-14 in a thrilling match played on the Gold Coast.
Both teams entered the match in scintillating form, the Titans thrashing the Canberra Raiders 36-0 and the Sea Eagles doing likewise to Newcastle, 32-0. This match had the potential to be a struggle, and so it was.
The two teams fought out the first try-less first half of the season. Only a penalty goal to Aidan Sezer would separate the two teams, with the Titans entering the half-time break ahead 2-0.
The Titans showed no mercy in the second half, with converted tries to Ryan James and David Mead seeing the scoreline blow out to 14-0.
Seven minutes later, Manly scored their first two tries, through Jorge Taufua and Tom Symonds, but Jamie Lyon was unsuccessful with both conversions, leaving the score 14-8 in the Titans’ favour.
But ten minutes later, Taufua would score his second try and it was third time lucky for Lyon with the conversion, tying the scores at 14-all. The scene was set for a grandstand finish.
Aidan Sezer missed the chance to seal the game for the Titans when a field goal attempt went astray, but he more than made up for when he slotted a penalty goal following a penalty against Manly when a line drop-out went out on the full.
Ashley Harrison might not remember his 250th match after he was knocked out in a shoulder charge by Richard Fa’aoso, who was subsequently booked for the first-half offence.
The Titans may not have won the same way as they did last week, but they are surely heading in the right direction as they seek a return to the finals this year.
Next week, they have the chance to build on their strong start to the season when they face the Penrith Panthers at Centrebet Stadium.
For Manly, they had their chances to win, but the ratio of errors (14-7) proved to be their downfall. They face the Tigers next week, and with both teams on 2-1 records for the year, it will prove to be a crucial contest in the early part of this season.
In Saturday’s other match, the Sydney Roosters won a low-scoring encounter against the Brisbane Broncos at Allianz Stadium.
Five-eighth James Maloney scored the only points of the match, through a converted try in the first half, followed by a penalty conversion in the second half.
Both teams’ attack misfired, with the Roosters managing only eight points and the Broncos being held scoreless for the second time in nine months, after a 12-0 loss to the Cowboys last June.
Highlighting the Broncos’ poor attack was the fact they could not break the Roosters’ line all match.
It was also the first time since round 26, 2000 in which the Roosters held the Broncos scoreless. On that occasion, the Roosters won 28-0 in a virtual dead rubber between the two best teams that season.
Sonny Bill Williams was again solid, playing the full 80 minutes. He ran the ball 114 metres, produced 36 tackles and set up the only try of the match to Maloney.
Those kind of statistics make for good reading for Roosters fans, who are starting to believe SBW is returning to the form that saw him feature in the Bulldogs’ premiership side of 2004.
Next week, the Roosters will get their chance to improve their attack against Parramatta, who coughed up 31 points against the Tigers, whilst the Broncos will have it tough, hosting the undefeated Melbourne Storm in Brisbane.