Ti­tans out for re­venge

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TODD BA­LYM

GOLD Coast want the last laugh over Daly Cherry- Evans by mak­ing the man fa­mous for a back­flip end his fi­nals dream with a flop.

That is part of the mo­ti­va­tion for the Ti­tans when they lock horns tonight with the man who re­neged on a fouryear deal to be­come the NRL’s $ 10 mil­lion man at Manly.

As­sis­tant coach Terry Mat­ter­son re­vealed the Ti­tans were not specif­i­cally mo­ti­vated by the Cherry- Evans con­tract soap opera but knew that vic­tory tonight could put the first nail in Manly’s fi­nals cof­fin.

That would be the least sat­is­fac­tion the Ti­tans could take over Manly and Cherry- Evans af­ter his de­ci­sion to re­nege put their 2016 plans in chaos.

Cherry- Evans is a man un­der im­mense pres­sure. He was dropped by Queens­land for the Ori­gin de­cider and the move proved a mas­ter­stroke as the Ma­roons racked up a record vic­tory in his ab­sence.

Manly have won just five games in 2015 and a loss to the Ti­tans would leave them need­ing to win at least seven of their last eight games to even be a chance at the fi­nals.

Cherry- Evans was the butt of jokes at the Ti­tans’ char­ity ball on Fri­day night by co­me­dian Vince Sor­renti but Gold Coast power­bro­kers would get even greater joy if their team can all but end Manly’s sea­son.

“They got a win last week so I know they’re at the stage of the year where they need to win and prob­a­bly a loss will all but end their sea­son,” Mat­ter­son said yesterday.

“( Cherry- Evans) is not a fo­cus for us at all. Our fo­cus is on our own per­for­mance and if we per­form well that will give us a chance of win­ning. We’re at the back third of the sea­son now and you know it’s im­por­tant. Get­ting close enough isn’t good enough now.”

Gold Coast’s prepa­ra­tions suf­fered a set­back yesterday when coach Neil Henry was left stranded in Syd­ney af­ter his 6am flight back from a friend’s 50th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions was de­layed and he missed the fi­nal train­ing ses­sion.

Hooker Beau Fal­loon ( wrist) and half­back Kane El­gey ( an­kle) both trained with the team, but only Fal­loon is ex­pected to make his re­turn tonight.

“It will be pretty handy to have ei­ther or both.

“We will see what hap­pens and play things a bit close to our chest,” Mat­ter­son said. ST GE­ORGE- Illawarra are adamant they can reignite their NRL cam­paign de­spite a big dent in their top- eight chances, af­ter a 28- 8 loss to Cronulla.

Miss­ing a host of key play­ers in­clud­ing Benji Mar­shall, Trent Mer­rin and Josh Du­gan, they suf­fered their fifth loss in a row in front of 12,792 fans at Re­mondis Sta­dium yesterday.

The Sharks jumped into ninth – only out­side the eight on for- and- against – but ad­mit they still re­main a work in progress af­ter fail­ing to put the Dragons to the sword ear­lier.

The Dragons were miss­ing 13 of their top 25 in­clud­ing Mer­rin ( sus­pen­sion), Mar­shall ( ham­string), Du­gan ( arm), Joel Thompson ( ham­string), Tyson Frizell ( back) and Dy­lan Far­rell ( back).

On the flip side, the re­turn of NSW stars Paul Gallen and Michael En­nis was telling for the Sharks as they hit a 16- 0 lead af­ter 28 min­utes.

Luke Lewis cel­e­brated his 250th NRL match by scor­ing one of his side’s three first- half tries.

The sec­ond half was an arm wres­tle and the Dragons weren’t with­out their chances.

The Sharks iced the game via An­drew Fi­fita – who was a stand­out run­ning for a game­high 203m – and Ben Barba.

Hav­ing slid from first spot six weeks ago, the Dragons will end the round in sev­enth as one of four teams on 20 points, equal with the Sharks.

Pic­ture: BRETT COSTELLO

WORK IN PROGRESS: Cronulla's Ben Barba dur­ing the game with St Ge­orge- Illawarra at Re­mondis Sta­dium.

BACK­FLIP­PER: Manly half­back Daly Cherry- Evans ar­rives.

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