Shortly after asserting that no one at NRL headquarters listened to him, Manly coach Geoff Toovey offered another suggestion for the denizens of League Central: give the minor premiers more recognition.
After a loss to South Sydney put the Sea Eagles' claims on the J.J. Giltinan Shield in doubt, Toovey’s side had to work hard for its 15-12 win over the first Gold Coast Titans side not coached by John Cartwright.
Daly Cherry-Evans’ late field goal and a subsequent Jamie Lyon penalty shot provided the difference in a dour struggle. The result allows the Sea Eagles to stay two competition points ahead of the bunnies – and possibly Penrith.
When asked about reports the current 40-20 rule interpretations were about to be scrapped mid-season, Toovey said: “I gave my input at the beginning of the year and they didn’t take much notice of that.”
But Toovey was willing to offer an opinion on whether $100,000 plus the shield was sufficient reward for finishing first after 26 brutal weeks of football.
“It’s not up to me but I think it’s a pretty hard thing to achieve,” Toovey said.
When asked if the minor premiership mattered to him, Toovey replied: “No, it doesn’t, but it’s a great achievement, whoever gets it. It’s something to hang your hat on.
“In a number of competitions around the world, if you do that, you get to hold up the trophy. It’s still a way off for us, we’re not worried about that.
“This is one of the toughest competitions in the world – 26 weeks of blokes bashing each other up. It’s impressive that these guys run out on the field and put so much effort in each week.
“Look how tight the competition’s been. Up until a couple of weeks ago, you lose two games and you’re out of the eight.
“If you don’t turn up on the day, you’re going to get your pants pulled down and get handed a hiding.”
Asked later to expand on how the minor premiers should be recognised, he said “don’t worry about cash”, adding: “The actual fact of being, after 26 rounds, on top of the ladder at that stage is phenomenal. It’s a great achievement and I think it should be recognised more.”
Manly’s first try, to Kieran Foran off Cherry-Evans’ centre-kick, was contentious given that the five-eighth could well have been in front of the halfback.
“I thought Jared Maxwell must have been in line with it,” said Titans caretaker coach Neil Henry, “but I don’t know if he was.”
Lyon then had a try disallowed because Tom Symonds was ruled to have illegally obstructed defender Aidan Sezer after the centre beat opposite number Brad Takairangi one on one.
When Lyon complained to referee Jared Maxwell that rival centre James Roberts had run behind a teammate in the lead-up to a 40th-minute Titans try, the referee replied: “I agree with you, that’s why it was no try.”
But video officials Steve Clark and Ben Galea disagreed with both of them, and it was 6-6 at half-time. “It’s got to be cleared up,” Lyon said of obstruction rulings.
Fullback Brett Stewart’s 56th-minute touchdown came after a break from the sparking Cherry-Evans, with winger Kalifa Faifai Loa’s converted try with two minutes remaining giving 11,940 fans some faint hope of a late upset.
Henry said winger Kevin Gordon had been omitted due to a knee problem, while giant Dave Taylor hopes to play next week despite neck and calf problems.