Martin Taupau tried his best to spark the Sea Eagles to their first win of the year but it was his former teammates instead who provided the platform for James Tedesco's try-scoring treble in the Wests Tigers' 36-22 win.
Tedesco's hat-trick down to forwards platform
Tigers coach Jason Taylor said Tedesco's starring role against Manly on Monday night wouldn't have been possible if not for the platform provided by the club's forwards.
The task for the home side became difficult when back-rower Curtis Sironen went down with a hamstring complaint within the first 10 minutes, yet Taylor was buoyed by the club's newfound fighting spirit.
"We had guys do some real courageous stuff," Taylor said after the win.
"Woodsy played the first half straight. Ava Seumanufagai almost played the entire second half and we needed him to. If he came off earlier we would've used our last interchange way too early.
"There was a lot of fight there. I know you guys will talk about the finishing we came up with but it was the fight in our own half which was the key for me. It set a great platform for us and it was really encouraging."
No love lost in Taupau's Tigers return
Taupau had a running battle with Wests five-eighth Mitch Moses all night, and while the Tigers prevailed with the competition points the back-rower was easily Manly's best.
Shifted to the left edge after an ordinary showing at lock in Round 1, Taupau made 159 metres including three line breaks and a try in his return to Leichhardt Oval.
A late shot on Moses, while the five-eighth was in the process of kicking, was the only lowlight for Taupau – with the Tigers going on to break the then 16-all scoreline in the next set.
"I thought Marty Taupau was really good on that left edge and I thought [that penalty] was rough on him," Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett said.
"Marty wasn't even looking, he was backing into him. Things like that don't help but in saying that we have to be resilient enough to turn them away. We can't cave in because something goes against us."
Brooks slots back in seamlessly
Sure he missed the Tigers' Round 1 grind against the Warriors but Luke Brooks had no worries slotting back into the side to help Wests continue their undefeated start to the year.
Brooks came up with a try assist and cleverly guided the team around the paddock, and more importantly the Tigers' left edge duo of Tim Simona and Jordan Rankin were pleased with the halfback's return.
"The hardest part about it all was getting through Round 1. I was excited about him coming back into the team because I know how well he's trained and how well he played in the trials," Taylor said.
"So getting past the hard part with two points and have him come back into the team was a real positive.
"The guys on the left side got a bit more ball too. They were frustrated last week because we had, with all due respect to him, Chris Lawrence playing five-eighth for a lot of the game."
Search continues for new-look Sea Eagles' maiden win
You can't blame the Sea Eagles for their ordinary start to the year considering their high turnover of players in the off-season.
"There were times there where we had opportunities to win the game and came up with pretty ordinary plays in the clutch. That's an area we need to improve," Barrett said while assessing Manly's 14-point loss.
In retrospect the club was perhaps unfairly given lofty expectations at the start of the campaign, but then again it's only Round 2. Barrett's men will have plenty to say in 2016 yet.
Williame's baker's dozen
Our hearts bleed for Sea Eagles winger Brayden Williame here at NRL.com.
The poor bloke has now played 13 NRL games since his 2013 debut and he's yet to win a single one.
With Brett Stewart's return date from his ongoing hamstring issues yet to be determined, let's hope the Sea Eagles can sneak a win in before the veteran fullback's return – for the sake of their luckless 23-year-old Wiliame if nothing else.