Wests Tigers score 38-12 win over Manly Sea Eagles in NRL Round 6
The Daily Telegraph - APRIL 15, 20185:56PM
WHEN Benji Marshall decided he wanted to return to the Wests Tigers in 2018, no one could have predicted this.
At 33, the plan was to play Benji off the bench and use his experience to help develop the talent of Luke Brooks and his halves partnership with new recruit Josh Reynolds.
As far as plans go, Ivan Cleary failed miserably with this one.
Not that Cleary would be complaining.
Because on the afternoon Reynolds finally made his way back from injury off the bench, Benji showed again why he won’t be giving up his starting spot easily.
By the time Reynolds eventually made his way into the game to replace Jacob Liddle at dummy half early in the second half, the Tigers led Manly 32-0 with Benji and Brooks carving the home team to pieces.
Benji finished with two tries and Brooks also crossed in the 38-12 smash-up that continued this unbelievable start to the season.
After six rounds the team many tipped for the wooden spoon are sitting in the NRL top four with five wins and their only loss coming against
Brisbane when they were robbed in golden point.
This was a game the Tigers were supposed to struggle in with forward leader Russell Packer out injured and Manly boosted by the return of Tom Trbojevic.
But it never panned out like that. In stunning scenes at Brookvale, a large section of the grandstand stood and booed as the players left the field at halftime with the home team trailing 26-0.
It was hard to know if the fans’ frustration was at the match officials or the players, although Trent Barrett’s men were their own worst enemies with errors and penalties constantly giving the ball back to the Tigers.
At that point the Tigers had enjoyed massive 76 per cent of possession with Manly forced to make 103 more first half tackles.
Brooks and Benji were in absolutely everything as the Tigers raced in four first half tries. Brooks scored one and so did Benji, while they played a hand in the others to Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and Chris Lawrence.
Their kicking games were also brilliant, forcing four first half repeat sets while Benji was putting up towering bombs into the sun that also caused chaos.
A classic Benji sidestep then gave him his second try soon after they returned.
That was when Reynolds finally got his shot.
Many finally got in the board when Joel Thompson crossed in the 53rd minute.
Manly got over again late when Brad Parker touched down.
And while the Tigers’ second half was sloppy, the match was a forgone conclusion.
The Tigers crossed again late when Liddle was awarded a penalty try in the final minute.
If you thought the Tigers were only an early season sideshow, think again.
This is a club that hasn’t played in the finals since 2011.
But they’ve set themselves up brilliantly to breakthrough this year.
Not only has Brooks taken his game to the next level, Benji has turned back the clock.