Wests Tigers Try Scorers: Farah, Nofoaluma 2, Lawrence, Woods
Goals: Richards 7/7
Manly Sea Eagles Try Scorers: Lyon, Matai 2
Goals: Lyon 3/3
Wests Tigers were in control from start to finish as they saw off last year’s grand finalists Manly Sea Eagles with a comfortable 34-18 win in the wet conditions at Leichardt Oval.
Tigers completed well in the first half and dealt with the conditions better than their opponents as they raced to a 26-6 half time lead which Manly could not recover from.
Manly didn’t look like a side tipped for a return to the grand final as they came up with error after error and were punished for their ill-discipline. They were beaten in all aspects of the game, even enthusiasm as the Tigers were red hot.
Robbie Farah dictated the game from nine in a man of the match performance as Manly struggled to deal with Wests’ skipped. The forwards were the difference as Woods, Gavet and Taupau never stopped making metres. It was the form that the Tigers showed when they turned over the Rabbitohs and they will start turning heads if they continue to pick up scalps like these.
Tigers skipper Robbie Farah grubbered for himself to score the opener as he spotted some space in behind on the back of some strong running from James Tedesco. Richards goaled to put them ahead 6-0.
Buhrer, Matai and Watmough all gave away penalties with the latter resulting in the Tigers going for the two and extending their lead to eight points.
Manly then came up with an error in their own half followed by a high shot which resulted in David Nofoaluma feeding off James Tedesco to score in the corner. In the aftermath of the try there was a coming together between the two sides as Blair and Matai clashed. Richards added a third goal from out wide in the wet conditions.
Wests dominance continued as they scored again immediately with Chris Lawrence breaking through the line to score his first of the season. Richards continued his perfect record with the conversion to make the lead 20-0.
Aaron Woods was next to cross from a Robbie Farah flat ball as he went over untouched with Manly left shell shocked under the posts. Richards converted again.
Woods was denied a second when Brooks forced a knock on inside Manly’s ten as Farah scooped up the loose ball before passing to Woods, only for an accidental offside to be called.
Manly finally breeched the Tigers defence with the last play of the first half as captain Jamie Lyon flew onto a precise Foran kick although it seemed to come when the ball was played after the half time siren. Lyon converted his own try to send them in 26-6 behind.
The second half started slow with both sides coming up with some errors but Wests reached 32 points when Nofoaluma picked up a bouncing ball before finding his way over for a second.
Steve Matai was one of Manly’s few good performers and the big centre dummied past two defenders out wide as the Tigers slide defence was caught out. Lyon cut the deficit further with his conversion.
The Sea Eagles’ afternoon was summed up when their attempt at a short drop out went out on the full and Pat Richards added another two to the scores, making it 34-12.
There was enough time for Matai to score his second as he grabbed a consolation when the returning Brett Stewart found the centre on the left edge. Lyons made it three from three with a good conversion as they fell to a 34-18 defeat.