Pressure Points: Luke Brooks might have been held back by the Tigers - but he'll have no excuses at Manly
Brooks is much-maligned, but we're about to find out how good he really is.
Angry Wests Tigers fans have staged a protest on the Brookvale Oval hill as the joint-venture slumped to a second straight wooden spoon with a 54-12 flogging from Manly.
In a fitting end to a sorry season, the Tigers were completely outplayed, letting in a long-range try in the first minute and never getting a foothold in the contest.
Haumole Olakau’atu starred for Manly, scoring one try and having a hand in three others, while winger Jason Saab and stand-in fullback Tolu Koula bagged doubles.
A group of around 40 Tigers fans chanted for chief executive Justin Pascoe’s exit on the seven-minute mark, handing out flyers labelled “end the Pascoe fiasco”.
Multiple banners calling for the CEO’s exit were also hoisted on the famous hill, before security forced them to be taken down at halftime claiming the venue had deemed them “offensive”.
Club bosses have long maintained the joint-venture is on an upward trajectory off the field, while the pathways program is in good shape with three Australia schoolboys players and a trio of 18-year-olds taking to the field on Friday night.
But after 12 straight seasons out of the finals, fans have made clear in recent weeks they believe enough is enough.
Friday night’s capitulation marked a sad end to Tim Sheens’ 40-year span as a first-grade coach, with the veteran mentor still officially in charge alongside Benji Marshall.
The Tigers were pulled apart at will on their left edge, with Olakau’atu having a field day and putting Koula over in the first minute.
The Manly second-rower ended the night with eight tackle busts, while also playing a part in a Saab four-pointer when he took a ball at ankle height and passed to his winger.
Koula’s performance will also have pleased the Sea Eagles, showing plenty of speed at fullback on the day before his 21st birthday, busting 17 tackles and proving he can be a capable back-up to Tom Trbojevic.
So easy did it get for the Sea Eagles, 200-game milestone man Jake Trbojevic and Gordon Chan Kum Tong were both handed tries with passes over the line.
The Tigers finished with 61 missed tackles as Manly broke the line 16 times and even left some points on the field in the first half.
The Sea Eagles’ season ends as a case of ‘what might have been’, after Tom Trbojevic’s pectoral tear headlined a raft of mid-season injuries that threw Manly off track.
For the Tigers, the 2023 campaign has been simply another disappointment.
Their four wins is no improvement on last year, they have conceded almost as many points (675) and collected a second straight wooden spoon.