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Stewart surpasses Fulton in Manly NRL win
By Darren Walton
18:07 AEST Sun Jul 21 2013

Manly coach Geoff Toovey lauded Brett Stewart as one of the greats after the prolific fullback surpassed rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton on the Sea Eagles' all-time tryscorers' list on Sunday.

Stewart needed just five minutes to bag his 130th career four-pointer in 171 games before delivering the final pass for three others as Manly cemented their position in the NRL top four with a stylish 38-20 win over Gold Coast.

Stewart's tryscoring haul is second only to Manly legend Steve Menzies' 151 from 280 games and, boasting the best strike rate in the league, the 28-year-old is on track to break the club record some time next season.

"He'll go down in the history books as being one of the greats," Toovey said.

"It's always good to have someone of his ability at fullback. All the top sides have got some exceptional players back there and for Manly `Snake' is one of those exceptional players.

"He can turn a game or save for us."

The former Test and NSW State of Origin No.1 did just that on Sunday, with Stewart's influential touches proving the difference against the tenacious Titans, who had all the momentum heading into the last 15 minutes.

"He's a massive part of the team," said skipper Jamie Lyon.

"He brings a lot of confidence and enthusiasm to the side."

On a milestone day at Brookvale, Lyon also celebrated his 100th career try, fittingly off a nice short ball from Stewart, as the Sea Eagles chalked up their third straight win.

Manly out-scored the Titans eight tries to four and the victory margin would have been more comfortable had Lyon not missed five conversion attempts.

With Cronulla losing on Saturday night, Manly's win kicked them three points clear of fifth-placed Newcastle, who climbed above the Sharks with victory over Penrith on Sunday.

"We've had a few wins, which has been good. We've just got to keep doing it to build a bit of momentum," Lyon said.

"It's always the best time of the year to play the finals and it's not far away now."

Stewart opened the scoring when he charged onto a short pass from Anthony Watmough to split the defence.

Gold Coast replied with a try five minutes later to winger Kevin Gordon, who embarrassed his Manly opposite David Williams to cross in the left-hand corner.

Four tries in a 10-minute blitz, to Williams, Lyon, centre Steve Matai and interchange forward Jamie Buhrer, gave the Eagles a commanding 24-4 lead.

A converted try to winger David Mead on the stroke of halftime gave the Titans hope and they narrowed the gap to eight points in the 52nd minute when Gordon leapt high to take Albert Kelly's cross-field bomb to score his second four-pointer of the afternoon.

Stewart earned Manly a 12-point buffer when he put second-rower Justin Horo over in the 55th minute, but a 98-metre runaway try from Titans five-eighth Aidan Sezer reduced the margin to eight points and set up a tense finish.

But the Eagles clinched victory with two more tries in the last five minutes, to replacement Nick Skinner and winger Jorge Taufua.

Gold Coast are now 10th on a congested ladder, two points adrift of eighth-placed Canberra, and will probably need to win five of their remaining seven matches to sneak into the finals.


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