Manly demonstrated the strong depth within the club as they over powered Wests Tigers 28-4 in Friday night's second NRL pre-season trial at Leichhardt Oval.
With both teams fielding 29 players, the score meant little but the band of rookies Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler called on in the second half were almost as impressive as the big name stars who played the opening 40 minutes.
A Tom Trbojevic-inspired try just before halftime put Manly ahead 12-4 at the interval and both clubs took off their big names.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire would have been pleased with the resolve shown by his side in the first half against a 2021 top four finishing team, but the Sea Eagles young guns dominated the second term.
While there has been much hype about speedster Tolutau Koula, winger Raymond Vaega, who is on a train-and-trial contract, stole the headlines with a hat-trick of tries in the second half.
Match: Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles
Round 1 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
Manly coach Des Hasler used most of his top players in the opening 40 minutes, while Tigers stars Luke Brooks, Tyrone Peachey, Oliver Gildart, David Nofoaluma played alongside some of the club's emerging talent.
- Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans produced a 40:20 kick and secured a repeat set with a masterful kicking game in wet and windy conditions, while also having a hand in two of his side's first half tries before being rested.
- Superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic made 133m from 11 runs with the ball and set up a try before halftime that indicated the 2021 Dally M Medallist would again be one of the most dominant players in the Telstra Premiership if he can stay fit.
- Manly rookies Kaeo Weekes, Jamie Humphreys, Tolutau Koula and Ben Trbojevic gave a glimpse of why the club believes they are stars of the futures.
- Kiwi back Raymond Vaega made the most of his second half opportunity to push for a contract by finishing with three tries, including a spectacular effort in which he leaped for a kick in the midfield and raced away to score.
Vaega scores a superb try
- Tigers recruit Tyrone Peachey provided a link between the middle forwards and halves Luke Brooks and Jock Madden in his role as a ball playing lock.
- English centre Oliver Gildart enjoyed a solid NRL debut, while winger David Nofoaluma was always a threat with the ball.
- Rookie Tigers forward Brandon Webster-Mansfield was the main casualty of the match after being taken from the field with a hamstring injury.
Tuilagi bursts through
Play of the Game
Knowing his night was about to finish at halftime, Tom Trbojevic produced a piece of magic in the last play before the interval for winger Christian Tuipulotu to celebrate his 21st birthday with a try. Receiving an inside pass from Daly Cherry-Evans, Trbojevic broke into the mid-field and headed towards his right to link with brother Ben, who put Tuipulotu over.
Tuipulotu scores a beauty thanks to Turbo
What they said
"The second half was full of train-and-trialists and lot of people who have played a lot of reserve grade so it was good to see them here tonight showing they can put it forward for NRL this season. It has been pretty well documented that COVID could interrupt at any moment so our squads are going to have to be prepared,": Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
"We wanted to put in some processes in place to kick off our season and there were a few things in the trial match we need to work out but we were happy with how we went. The fire is really there since the back end of last season and we really want to do well.": Wests Tigers prop James Tamou.
The Sea Eagles meet Canberra at Central Coast Stadium next Friday night, followed by the clash between Wests Tigers and Sydney Roosters in another double-header.
The Tigers will be hoping to have star recruit Jackson Hastings available for his first appearance since returning to the NRL from Super League after missing the opening pre-season trial due to a boil on his foot.
Manly coach Des Hasler will use the clash with Canberra to fine tune his side's preparation for the Telstra Premiership opener against premiers Penrith on Thursday, March 10.
Michael Maguire's men host the Storm at CommBank Stadium on Saturday, March 12.