So close yet so far for Brisbane.
So close yet so far for Brisbane.

NRL team crippled by ‘silent disease’

RUGBY league icon Phil Gould says Manly was affected by a "silent disease" in Thursday's win over Brisbane, while some questioned the legality of Tom Trbojevic's match-winning play in the dying minutes.

Manly was the heavy favourite heading into the clash in Gosford after the Broncos suffered their worst ever loss last week, going down 59-0 to the Roosters. But the Queensland team showed some serious improvement to race to an 18-0 lead in the first half as Kotoni Staggs, Xavier Coates and under-pressure centre Darius Boyd all crossed for tries.

Former NSW Origin coach Gould said Manly fell into the trap of expecting to roll the Broncos easily.

"For Manly, complacency is a silent disease. You don't know you've got it until it's too late," he said.

A try four minutes before half-time to rookie Tevita Funa got the Sea Eagles on the board and they woke from their slumber in the second half, benefiting from a lopsided penalty count and a glutton of possession to haul in Brisbane's lead.

Four-pointers to Daly Cherry-Evans and Moses Suli, converted by Reuben Garrick, saw Manly draw within two and when Garrick slotted his second penalty of the night with 10 minutes remaining Des Hasler's team had taken a 20-18 lead.

In the 79th minute Brisbane threw their last punch, spreading the ball to the right edge and finding young gun Coates on the overlap. He charged towards the tryline but Manly fullback Trbojevic raced across in cover from the posts to save his team and knock Coates over the sideline.

Brisbane would have scored in the corner is Trbojevic didn’t get there.
Brisbane would have scored in the corner is Trbojevic didn’t get there.

It was the perfect redemption after Boyd ran over the top of Trbojevic for Brisbane's third try. But some questioned whether the NSW star's match-winning tackle was actually an illegal shoulder charge. reports Brisbane back-rower Joe Ofahengaue commented on an Instagram post of Trbojevic's tackle, writing "shoulder charge" and telling one fan it was the "reason we were denied a try".

It was a view supported by some social media users, but denied by others as front-on footage appeared to show Trbojevic attempting to wrap his left arm around Coates, making it a legal tackle.

While the Broncos put in a much-improved performance compared to last week, prop Matt Lodge was gutted to lose a game he knows his team should have iced.

"It was disappointing. You shouldn't lose game like that," Lodge said.

"We had a 15-minute lapse in concentration that cost us and it's a pretty disappointed shed down there now.

"We just gave away those six-tackle penalties and a few silly errors, especially in defence, and once again it just showed we've got plenty of work to do."

Gould said Brisbane was too tentative to open the second half, which opened the door for Manly to get back in the game.

"If you're sitting and waiting for them to come back, they won't disappoint you," Gould said.

"And that's the way the Broncos started the second half, they just weren't aggressive enough. They kind of sat back and said, 'OK, what's the comeback look like?' and before they knew it the comeback was on."

Coates couldn’t keep the ball alive despite his desperation.
Coates couldn’t keep the ball alive despite his desperation.