Wests Tigers’ Braith Anasta scores his second try against Parramatta Eels at Campbelltown Stadium. Picture: Mark Evans Source: The Daily Telegraph
FAIRYTALES and nightmares unfolded at Campbelltown Stadium tonight as Braith Anasta and Ricky Stuart christened their new colours in wickedly contrasting fashion.
While Anasta toasted his first outing for the Tigers with a double, Stuart was nursing an awful hangover after the wooden spooners showed little to suggest they will shake the dreaded prize this year.
Before taking charge of Parramatta in September, Stuart personally endured the team’s final four games of 2012.
They were miserable viewing, but tonight’s first full-blooded trial under his watch was arguably worse.
As a result, Parramatta players will face the same old music from their long-suffering supporters at this morning’s annual fan day after Benji Marshall turned on a pre-season clinic.
Senior trio Jarryd Hayne, Reni Maitua and Ben Smith did their captaincy aspirations no harm by sitting out the debacle, which saw Marshall engineer four of his team’s seven tries.
While Anasta and Marshall were rewarded with early showers, Stuart persisted with the bulk of his top 17 players until the bitter end.
But Parramatta struggled to hit second gear even against second-stringers, with Willie Tonga’s 54th-minute try their only joy.
From the very first set of six, the smaller Eels pack looked vulnerable up the middle without Nathan Hindmarsh to plug the gaps.
Tigers prop Keith Galloway rolled through the centre at will, setting up a territorial avalanche that bankrolled a 24-0 half-time lead.
And in a perfect debut for the Tigers, Anasta bagged his first try on his very first touch- from a sublime Marshall short ball - in the 13th minute.
The pair combined again in the 34th minute, with Marshall haring downfield in pursuit of his own kick and forcing a fumble from Eels winger Ken Sio. He was on hand to collect the scraps and stroll across for a soft try that summed up the contest.
Further tries to skipper Robbie Farah and exciting Fijian winger Marika Koroibete, who showed blistering acceleration to claim Marshall’s kick from a scrum win 70m upfield, completed the first-half rout.
Both teams emerged from the sheds with their full complement - and the one-way traffic continued toward Parramatta’s tryline.
Marshall set up another try for Matt Utai, before Blake Ayshford joined the party courtesy of another Sio error to make the scoreboard 34-0 after just 50 minutes.
That was the cue for Marshall, Farah and co to exit, but Wests still outscored the hapless Eels.