Farah and Marshall star as Tigers down Sea Eagles
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 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday evening.
Farah wound back the clock with two second-half tries and Marshall set up a third to spoil Des Hasler's return as Sea Eagles coach.
It was Farah's first double in 115 matches.
In miserable conditions in front of a crowd 13,159, the Tigers' veterans produced a near-perfect display of wet-weather football.
The Tigers claimed the lead when 35-year-old Farah was first to react 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.
It was an impressive start to the season for the Tigers, who were without new skipper Moses Mbye and would be hoping to break an eight-year finals drought.
Marshall's performance also justified Maguire's decision to overlook high-profile playmaker Josh Reynolds for the key five-eighth spot.
The persistent rain made life hard for the two teams, with both sets of wingers making numerous mistakes defusing long and short kicks.
The Tigers enjoyed the lion's share of the territory, but couldn't convert initially into points.
Esan Marsters failed to cleanly ground a Marshall grubber in the 31st minute, while Farah was also held up over the line six minutes later.
They Sea Eagles weren't without their chances either, with Curtis Sironen denied by a rare referee interference, and Brendan Elliot ignoring an open Brad Parker.
But while the Tigers grew as the game went on, the Sea Eagles struggled to shake off their 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 and 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.
Farah was quick to take note post-match that it was more about the team and not his own individual highlights.
"The games are running out so I play every game here like it's going to be my last," Farah said.
"The first one was lucky off a deflected kick and the second off some really quick play-the-balls and when you see that as a dummy half you just run.
"It's good to get a couple of tries but more important to get the season off on the right foot.
Marshall was happy with the win but also quick to send his thoughts to those in New Zealand after the massacre in Christchurch on Friday.
"It's absolutely a shock to everyone," Marshall said.
"Thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families - this is just a game."