Thriller tale of two halves
IVAN Cleary last night praised his young halves Luke Brooks and Tui Lolohea after the stunning 30- 26 comeback victory over Manly.
On the same day the club announced that Benji Marshall will be back next year, the player whose arrival all but signalled the end for Marshall’s time at the Tigers previously took another significant step in his development.
It’s hard to believe that the 22- year- old Brooks made his memorable NRL debut four years ago to the month when he was brought into the Tigers squad by Mick Potter and got man of the match in the win over St George Illawarra.
He was only 18 back then but at the time Brooks was earmarked as a future superstar.
While Brooks has copped his share of criticism in the years since for probably not living up to the early hype, Cleary went as far as to say he thought yesterday was as composed as he had seen from Brooks.
“I thought Luke today was really good,” Cleary said.
“Every play he did had meaning to it and he was composed more than I have seen before so hopefully that is a bit of a go- ahead game for him as well.”
The Tigers looked gone when they trailed 20- 6 at halftime but with the Leichhardt crowd spurring them they defied their standing on the ladder with what was probably their best win of the season.
“We went through a period in the first half where we were pretty erratic,” Cleary said.
“We were breaking tackles but we were sort of all over the shop. We just lost our way and Tui was probably guilty of that, and Brooksie was as well, actually. But second half they both straightened up a lot.
“Tui when he scored, that is his thing.
“If he understands that, when he does that more good things are going to happen. Hopefully ( today was) a great breakthrough for him in that regard.”
Skipper Aaron Woods also thanked the crowd on what will be his second last game at Leichhardt before he heads to the Bulldogs next season.
“They help a lot,” Woods said of the crowd. “There are times when you probably get a 50/ 50 call go your way.
“And the boys just get goose bumps and start finding a lot more energy, running harder, tackling harder and just little things that if you are a bit flat you wouldn’t do.
“Especially that last 15 minutes. We had a bit of possession down their end and we stuck around and got the win in the end.”
Cleary said the win was proof the players still had a lot of pride in them despite their standing on the ladder.