Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie has delivered a starring opening half to help his side defeat the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 52-18 in their second and final trial match today at Leichhardt Oval.
With Moses Mbye rested from the trial as he nurses a minor injury, Laurie showed the pace off the mark and ball-playing ability that has many excited about what lies ahead at Wests Tigers — scoring two tries in the space of four minutes before laying on another for Tommy Talau to score in the 22-6 first half romp.
Captain James Tamou and fellow new recruit Joe Ofahengaue both played the opening half an hour before being taken off with the home side leading by 16 points, while Luke Brooks and Jock Madden combined well in the halves.
Madden — who the club will announce on Sunday night has inked a new deal for 2022 — is in the running to make his first-grade debut in Round 1, with regular five-eighth Adam Doueihi suspended for the season opener against Canberra.
New recruit Laurie scores the opener for Wests Tigers
In front of a 5,212-strong crowd at Leichhardt Oval, Wests Tigers raced out of the blocks courtesy of Laurie's individual brilliance — leading 12-0 after as many minutes with Brooks taking on the goal-kicking for the first time in his career.
Talau — a late inclusion for the rested Joey Leilua — turned provider for his side's third try as he spotted AJ Kepaoa unmarked down the short side, before grabbing a four-pointer of his own off a pass from Laurie to round out the impressive half.
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The only blemish for Michael Maguire's side came via a contentious four-pointer for the visitors, with Kayo Weekes touching down after 16 minutes despite Laurie appearing to have been tackled without the ball in the air.
With substitutions aplenty for both sides in the second half, Wests Tigers called upon Doueihi to shift into the halves for Madden while Jake Simpkin started at hooker for Jacob Liddle. And it didn't take long for the points to continue, with Doueihi instantly making his mark — carrying defenders with him over the line.
Brooks made no mistakes with the extras to extend the lead to 34-6, giving him five goals from six attempts as the halfback had an early break on the day.
Ben Trbojevic hit back for the Sea Eagles' second of the day but it did little to dent the momentum of the hosts with Doueihi laying on tries for Kelma Tuilgai and David Nofoaluma in the space of three minutes to blow the scoreline out to 46-12.
The home side weren't done, however, with Simpkin getting Maguire's men to the half century as he collected a clever late offload from Tuki Simpkins to score.
Arguably the Sea Eagles' best, Schuster would grab a consolation try four minutes from time but it would matter little to the final result as Wests Tigers finished up comfortable winners and full of confidence heading into Round 1.
Wests Tigers will travel to the nation's capital on March 14 to face the Canberra Raiders in their season opener before returning home to face the Roosters in Round 2 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Wests Tigers 52 (Laurie 2, Kepaoa, Talau, Doueihi, Tuilagi, Nofoaluma, Simpkin tries; Brooks 4/5, Doueihi 3/3 goals) def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18 (Weekes, B.Trbojevic, Schuster tries; Garrick 1/1, Funa 2/2 goals) at Leichhardt Oval