Media Reports from game

Wests Tigers score 38-12 win over Manly Sea Eagles in NRL Round 6

Paul Crawley
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.

Brooks and Marshall star as Tigers turn entertainers in rout of Manly
By Chris Barrett - 15 April 2018 — 6:17pm

Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall have put on a clinic in a 38-12 thrashing of Manly that has kept surprise packets Wests Tigers camped in the NRL’s top four.

A fifth win of the season for Ivan Cleary’s men was all but guaranteed by the halfway stage of Sunday’s match at Lottoland after they blew the Sea Eagles away to lead 26-0. The Tigers had turned up on the northern beaches having averaged only 13 points per match over the first five rounds, the excellent start to the campaign attributed more to their new-found steel in defence, the best in the competition. They had that figure covered by only the 13th minute on Sunday, marking the beginnings of an extraordinary ambush. They still like to talk of Brookvale as a fortress up this way despite being spanked here more than once in the last year but the Tigers’ record, having lost on their previous eight trips, suggested it may well live up to its reputation of old.

However, with a stunning share of possession in the visitors’ favour, Manly were blown away. The Sea Eagles were forced to make a staggering 213 tackles compared to the Tigers’ 85 in the first half , the contest descending into the type of one-way traffic you get over the Spit Bridge in peak hour. Against a quickly tiring opposition, Cleary’s men turned entertainers – and a brilliant Brooks was the protagonist. In the finest outing of his career, the halfback scored one try himself and set up the Tigers’ other three, scored by Chris Lawrence, Malakai Watene-Zelekniak and Marshall – in the first 40 minutes alone.

His senior partner in the halves, Marshall, wasn’t far behind, turning back the clock to the joint venture’s most glorious days with the sight of him dashing downfield and sidestepping his way across the line. The 33-year-old scored twice within the space of nine minutes either side of the break, finishing off a neat set play orchestrated by Brooks before leaving Manly’s Joel Thompson stranded with some footwork from yesteryear. The Sea Eagles were on the back foot from the outset but did themselves no favours. Akuila Uate in particular had a shocker, making a meal of a Marshall bomb and a Brooks grubber, both which proved costly. It was little wonder that Trent Barrett chose to deliver arguably the most ferocious half-time spray of his tenure at Manly.

Realistically, his team were playing for pride from that point on. They made a couple of indents on the scoreboard in the final half-hour but the restrained celebrations for consolation tries to Thompson and Brad Parker would be all a home crowd of 15,546 would have to cheer about. It was fitting then that Manly’s evening should end with the indignity of a penalty try, with Daly Cherry-Evans pulled up for holding back Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle just before the final siren.

Brooks driving Cleary’s bus with precision
Author Dan Walsh Timestamp Sun 15 Apr 2018, 06:17 PM

It’s Ivan’s bus all right. And it’s Luke Brooks well and truly behind the wheel, unlike ever before in a career tipped for the fast lane as soon as he put it into gear.

All aboard. Brooks was the last of the “Big Four” on Cleary’s hit list 12 months ago.

None questioned it, just as not too many questioned the Bulldogs chasing Aaron Woods and James Tedesco, the Roosters being in the hunt for the fullback too, or Parramatta luring Mitchell Moses into the Blue & Gold fold.

Few asked why Brooks wasn’t in the same demand. With a fifth win from six starts in 2018, Brooks now has as many victories as his three former teammates combined this year.

With Cleary in the coach’s box, Brooks is calling the shots with more confidence than at any point in his 88-game Telstra Premiership career.

His performance against Manly went beyond anything else produced in his five first grade seasons.

It started, as it should, with the basics. A repeat set from a grubber across his body.

In a 2016 column, just after Brooks had extended his previous Wests Tigers contract, Matty Johns wrote of the-then 21-year-old’s “immense talent and potential”. Nurtured and realised, they would take him to the NSW No.7 jersey.

Johns tempered the piece with “too often he allows the style of a contest to dictate his involvement”.

In front of 15,546 at the famed suburban fortress where Manly had won their last seven, and the Tigers hadn’t since 2003, Brooks dictated.

The next set, the grubber came again. Last year the Tigers – mainly via Brooks’s left boot – were 14th in the NRL for repeat sets.

Brooks’ running game came to the fore against Manly. Just as it has ever since Cleary took charge just over a year ago.

When Brooks came into grade, carting buckets of talent, a bucket of a behind and the unfortunate Andrew Johns comparisons that came with both, he was good for four runs a game.

Last year he cranked it up to six. This season it’s eight. Against the Sea Eagles, Brooks finished with a round dozen.

He set the tone in the sixth minute, skipping and probing at the line before his kick for Chris Lawrence to open the scoring.

Another repeat set came soon enough. And so did Brooks, drawing Jake Trbojevic in, scooting around his outside and sending Kevin Naiqama away on the next successful raid.

It was that type of day for Manly, summed up whenever poor old Akuila Uate went near the ball.

So the 31st minute defence Brooks burrowed through for a stolen try out of dummy-half, it wasn’t exactly Fort Knox he was conquering to do so.

But the confidence and timing, that was something. And it’s catching.

Young rake Jacob Liddle, 21 in years, 16 in first-grade games, was dummying and back-tracking his way several metres out of dummy-half near the line soon after – the type of play that draws four-letter queries from fans.

Those extra yards, with a couple of cheeky dummies, gave Brooks space and time to bait Brian Kelly in defence, and send Benji Marshall over for the first of the veteran’s two tries.

It’s not like Benji needs topping up in confidence. Josh Reynolds either.

Brooks is the key for Cleary. And with him firing, and backing himself to do so, it’s standing room only on the bus.

Dynamic duo lead Tigers blitz over Sea Eagles
Author Chris Kennedy Timestamp Sun 15 Apr 2018, 05:57 PM

A virtuoso performance from Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks has helped guide his team to a commanding 38-12 win over a shell-shocked Manly outfit at Lottoland on Sunday afternoon.

Brooks and his five-eighth Benji Marshall were near perfect in an opening 40 minute burst in which Manly barely touched the football and the pulsating 15,546-strong crowd was quickly silenced. The halftime score was 26-0 which few teams ever recover from.

The Tigers halves overshadowed the long-awaited return of star recruit Josh Reynolds, who had to settle for an energetic and effective stint off the bench in the second half at hooker, although the result long since decided when he entered the fray.

Brooks had the ball on a string, setting up three of his side’s four first-half tries, and scoring the other.

It was his finest performance of an already-impressive 2018 Telstra Premiership season and among the best of his career to date.

The somewhat unheralded Tigers pack easily shrugged off the loss of forward leader Russell Packer (knee), with Ben Matulino, Alex Twal and Matt Eisenhuth leading the way through the middle.

For Manly, there were few positives. Tireless efforts through the middle from Jake Trbojevic and Api Koroisau were not rewarded on the scoreboard.

Second rower Jack Gosiewski showed enough to suggest he will be a capable replacement for Curtis Sironen. But really, Trent Barrett’s men just need this one to disappear into the history books as quickly as possible.

The problems started early for Manly – a critical penalty on the last play of what had been an otherwise excellent defensive set in just the third minute.

A brilliant Brooks grubber – the first of many from him on the day – forced a drop out at the end of that set. His second deft grubber sat up perfectly for Chris Lawrence to open the scoring.

Another penalty and Marshall scorched through a yawning gap off a quick tap to force Manly to again defend their line. This time they escaped with a penalty goal but when Brooks sent Kevin Naiqama through a hole from the next set to set up a Malakai Watene-Zelezniak try the floodgates were well and truly open at 14-0 after 14 minutes.

When Manly finally got the ball in the 17th minute for the first time since the opening set they already looked spent.

A Thompson line break, a Marshall forced drop-out, an Aku Uate dropped ball straight off a scrum all piled on the pressure.

Next points came when Brooks darted over from dummy half for a well-earned try in the 31st minute then held up a brilliant short ball for Marshall to score off a perfectly executed set play and suddenly it was 26-0 after 33 minutes.

When the Sea Eagles finally trudged off at half-time to a chorus of boos from their home crowd, they’d suffered no further scoreboard damage but had been forced to make 213 tackles to 85 and held just 25% of the ball, having been out-run by 1053 metres to 360.

If they were to be any hope of a comeback, Manly needed a good start to the second half and to be next to score – but they got neither. An error in the first set was followed by a poor attempted clean-up of a Brooks grubber by Uate, conceding a drop out.

It didn’t immediately lead to points but the Tigers were still able to extend their lead in the 45th minute when a vintage side-step allowed Marshall to bag his second.

To Manly’s credit they stuck in the fight and managed to prevent further damage, closing the gap with second half tries to Joel Thompson and Brad Parker as the sting went out of the contest. A final-minute penalty try to Jacob Liddle – who fumbled a grounding after being illegally tackled without the ball by Daly Cherry-Evans – sealed the 38-12 result.

The win leaves the Tigers inside the top four (and equal second on ladder points) with a 5-1 record while the differential hit drops Manly below Canberra to 12th place with just two wins in six rounds.

These are all excellent summaries and sum up the Tigers’ outstanding performance well. I enjoyed the deserved praise piled on Brooks in particular.

Benj and Brooksy led our team to the victory. Brooks in particular has a kicking game I have never witnessed of him before. Pin-perfect kicks.

Recent Topics

Support our community by clicking here and joining our Forum Support Scheme