Tom Trbojevic has been upstaged on his return to the NRL by younger brother Ben who scored a brace in Manly’s 36-22 win over Wests Tigers.
Making a late change on gameday from centre to the back row, the youngest Trbojevic grabbed a try either side of the break in his seventh game at NRL level.
The match was the first in which eldest brother Jake, Tom and 20-year-old Ben have played at 4Pines Park together.
Importantly for the Sea Eagles and NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, Tom got through a full 80 minutes with a heavily-strapped knee after spending the last month on the sideline and finished the afternoon with two try assists and 198 running metres.
“It was a game Benny will remember for a long time,” Manly coach Des Hasler said.
“It was a late change for him moving from centre into the back row.
“He’ll get an enormous amount of confidence out of today. I’m very happy and proud of him.
“It was great to see Tom get through today and he’ll be much better for today’s run.”
In front of 17,385 fans, Manly cruised out to an 18-0 lead before the Tigers pulled within a converted score inspired by Jackson Hastings on his return to Manly for the first time since his acrimonious split with the Sea Eagles.
The Tigers lost prop Thomas Mikaele and winger Ken Maumalo to first-half concussions and the pressure eventually tolled as the game wore on.
After Ben Trbojevic had opened the scoring in a tense opening half hour, referee Adam Gee eventually lost patience with the Tigers’ attempt to slow down the ruck and sent Stefano Utoikamanu to the sin bin.
Reuben Garrick and Christian Tuipulotu scored on either flank to give the Sea Eagles a 14-0 buffer at the break with captain Daly Cherry-Evans adding the first after halftime.
The Tigers didn’t die wondering with Luke Garner and Tyrone Peachey scoring to cut the deficit to 18-12 with 25 minutes to go.
But just when they needed to stick in the arm wrestle, the Tigers deviated and allowed Josh Aloiai to crash over for his first try in Manly colours.
In the final stages, the two sides exchanged tries as the scoreline blew out. Garrick and Ben Trbojevic sealed their doubles, while Englishman Oliver Gildart and Joe Ofahengaue touched down for the Tigers.
“We were very solid for a long period of time, we just got opened up,” Tigers coach Michael Maguire said.
“We needed to finish our good ball and our field position and all of sudden the scoreboard starts to tick and you do things outside of what you want to do.
“Going down to 12 men, they score two tries and you play outside of what you have been practising. We’re capable in our attack but we’ve just got to give ourselves the opportunity to do that.”