Titans v Sea Eagles: Five key points
Manly power on minus their 'Turbo', Walker wins battle of the Blues, Sirro 2.0 starts to take shape and Titans fail to cope with favourites tag again.
Manly lose nothing without Turbo power
Without the jet engine of Tom Trbojevic at the back questions were raised whether Manly would have the same penetration in attack but Matthew Wright slotted in seamlessly on the back of a dominant forward pack to contribute to a comfortable 20-point win on the road.
Keeping their perfect 2017 away record intact, the Sea Eagles exposed the Titans on the edges at will in the first half, Daly Cherry-Evans and Blake Green playing at rapidly retreating defensive lines due to the work from their big men.
Rather than making any major adjustments to cope without having 'Turbo' power Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett said Wright's arrival was something that had been in the pipeline since last November.
"We didn't change anything to be honest," Barrett said.
"The beauty of having a player like Matty ready to go – and he has trained in that position pretty much since November – we always knew the day would come.
"We probably banked on Tommy not being available for us during the Origin period but it came through injury. Matt was a logical choice for us and I thought he was outstanding for us today, real tough."
Walker outshines Hayne in Blues battle
Laurie Daley's Blues backline conundrum may have become even more complicated after a Saturday night in which Dylan Walker completely outshone his opposite Jarryd Hayne and Michael Jennings limped from the field for the Eels.
It took just 15 minutes for Manly to expose the Titans' left edge defence and the two tries they did score down that side could have been three had Akuila Uate's hands not let him down a couple of minutes prior to half-time.
With the likes of Walker, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Jack Bird and James Roberts all in the mix the competition for the right centre position is a heated one but there are less obvious alternatives for the left side.
Given his lack of experience playing the position Hayne was exposed defensively on a number of occasions on Saturday night and may be a safer option on the wing if he is selected in the squad at all.
Titans fail to handle sense of expectation
On the back of a win over Melbourne many described as one of the club's finest victories and with Manly backing up for a second trip to Queensland in as many weeks after a loss to Brisbane last week the Titans started the game clear favourites, a position from which they have often struggled in the past.
Both coaches acknowledged that consensus of opinion after the game which may in fact have contributed to the way the two teams played.
"There weren't too many people backing us to beat 'em and probably the most pleasing thing was to keep them to the two tries, one off a kick and one off a ricochet from one of our players," said Manly coach Trent Barrett.
"Pretty listless performance," was Titans coach Neil Henry's assessment.
"It's a funny game, you go from the euphoria of fighting and hanging in and winning a game last week against a quality team to come home against a side that are playing good footy.
"Off the back of their loss last week and our win you'd think that we'd turn up and do a better job but we didn't."
Sirro 2.0 starting to take shape
He is in many respects still the schoolboy five-eighth learning his trade as a back-rower but there were some eerily similar traits on display when Curtis Sironen charged back on the angle to set up Jake Trbojevic's crucial second half try.
All long limbs and high knees like his father Paul 30 years ago, Curtis charged across the face of the Titans defensive line, brushing away from tackles before attracting two defenders close to the line and offloading for Trbojevic to crash over the line.
His father's former New South Wales second row partner and now Manly assistant coach John Cartwright is working closely with Sironen on developing the 23-year-old into one of the game's most potent back-rowers.
While acknowledging that there will be some inconsistent performances still to come he has no doubt that such a display as he showed against the Titans will accelerate his belief that he can match it with the best the game can throw at him.
Brittle signs within Titans' spine
A week ago they were being lauded for their point-scoring proficiency but the make-up of the Titans' spine showed on Saturday night that there are some issues to resolve heading into the back half of the season.
Tyrone Roberts has been preferred to Jarryd Hayne at fullback in recent weeks but an excellent kicking game from the Manly halves and the kick-chase more often than not led by Daly Cherry-Evans prevented Roberts from making any headway with his kick returns.
Hayne was exposed defensively and struggled to insert himself into the attack out wide while young halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey did what young halves often do which is to make some basic errors at crucial times and fail to apply the necessary polish to the end of sets when it was most needed.
Gold Coast were beaten physically by a dominant Manly team that always makes a playmaker's task more difficult but Neil Henry may spend the next fortnight pondering exactly which combination suits the team best for the remainder of the season.