Hastings shines in first hit-out since being dropped
Dropped Manly playmaker Jackson Hastings began life back in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership with a solid display, helping the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles' 32-16 win over the Wyong Roos at Berkeley Vale Oval on Saturday.
Happy to put behind the controversial events of the past two weeks behind him, Hastings scored a try and had a hand in two others to lead a spirited comeback victory for Manly's feeder team from an early 12-0 deficit.
Playing at his preferred halfback position and working with Joey Lussick in the halves, a couple of Hastings' early passes failed to find the mark as Wyong dominated the initial exchanges.
However, Hastings then warmed to his task, sharing the general kicking duties with Lussick while going on a roving commission between first and second receiver from the ruck, spearheading Blacktown's revival 10 minutes from half time.
A Manase Fainu grubber kick set up Hastings's try. He duly converted to trim Wyong's lead to 12-6.
Wyong then put the restart out on the full, inviting Blacktown back down their defensive end. From the penalty set, another clever Hastings pass to Lussick led to the five-eighth scoring wide out on the right.
Hastings hooked the conversion wide to leave Wyong in front 12-10 at the half time break.
In Blacktown's first attacking raid of the second half in the 44th minute, Hastings laid a pinpoint kick in goal for interchange forward Tyler Cassel to score, giving the Sea Eagles their first lead. Hastings was off target with the kick and the score remained 14-12.
For the rest of the match, Hastings worked well with Lussick, as Blacktown piled on 32 unanswered points.
Hastings also had his hands full when he came in for some attention from bustling Wyong centre Matt Ikavalu.
Both players traded pleasantries as Ikavalu as they engaged in a running battle which almost came to blows in the 65th minute.
However, their altercation didn't escalate beyond a fierce verbal exchange. Hastings embraced Ikavalu at full-time and was also the first player to thank referee Damian Brady.
While Hastings might not be back in Manly coach Trent Barrett's player rotation anytime soon after falling out of favour in some circles at the club in recent weeks, his take-charge display against Wyong will ensure he is more than welcome at Blacktown.