Farah winds back clock, Tigers beat Manly

Saturday 16 March, 2019
Matt Encarnacion
Robbie Farah Robbie Farah
Robbie Farah (L) has scored two tries in the Wests Tigers' 20-6 season-opening NRL win over Manly.

Wests Tigers old-stagers Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall have ensured the Michael Maguire era is off to a winning start with a 20-6 round-one NRL victory over Manly.

It looked grim for the home side when a valiant Sea Eagles defence gritted their way to a 2-0 lead with half-an-hour to go on Saturday evening at Leichhardt Oval.

However, Farah wound back the clock with two second-half tries, while Marshall set up a third to spoil Des Hasler's return as Sea Eagles coach.

"He's done a great job for an old boy. But he looked like a young kid out there," Maguire said of Farah's performance.

"He's just really enjoying his footy. That's the one thing that I get out of the senior guys that I've got."

In miserable conditions in front of 13,159 fans, the Tigers' veterans produced a near-perfect display of wet-weather football.

The impressive Tigers, missing skipper Moses Mbye, claimed the lead when a 35-year-old Farah reacted first to a Luke Brooks ricochet to score between the posts.

Marshall isolated Luke Garner to steamroll Daly Cherry-Evans in the 58th minute, before Farah dummied his way over not long after to seal the win.

Marshall's performance justified Maguire's decision to overlook high-profile playmaker Josh Reynolds at five-eighth.

The persistent rain made life hard, with both sets of wingers making numerous mistakes defusing long and short kicks.

The Tigers enjoyed territorial advantage, but couldn't convert initially into points.

Manly's Curtis Sironen was denied a try by a rare referee interference, and Brendan Elliot ignored an unmarked Brad Parker.

The Tigers grew as the game went on, but the Sea Eagles struggled to shake off early-season rust and missed a number of their targets on set plays.

In contrast, Farah was in the face of Cherry-Evans on all of their last-tackle plays.

And things could get worse for Hasler, with forwards Addin Fonua-Blake and Joel Thompson likely to be in hot water with the match review committee.

Addin Fonua-Blake was pinged for dangerously diving at the legs of a kicking Marshall in the first half, while Thompson was reported for tripping.

Tigers halfback Brooks might also find himself in trouble for tripping Manly hooker Apisai Koroisau early in the second half.

Hasler said the Tigers kicked his team off the park and Manly didn't manage their time with the ball well enough.

"Because of that weight of possession, you just give them field position and tries come off ricochets. Their kicking game was very strong," he said.

"They were much more disciplined with the ball in the second half than we were and, consequently with the ball, comes field position and with that come points."