NRL DRAGONS TIGERS
Benji Marshall produced a vintage performance to lead the Wests Tigers to a hard-fought 24-14 victory over St George Illawarra in their NRL season-opener.
On the same day scans revealed Luke Brooks would miss a month with a calf injury, Marshall stepped up with a try and two try assists at WIN Stadium.
At 35, the league's second-oldest player also added four goals from four attempts in what was his first match with the kicking tee since 2013.
Marshall, who was masterful in the wet conditions, combined with another former Dragon in Luciano Leilua to break a 14-14 scoreline in the 60th minute.
"People compare Benji and Cameron Smith - they're two of some of the best players in the game," Tigers coach Michael Maguire said post-game.
"A lot of it's between his ears, what he wants to achieve.
"He's just having a lot of fun at the moment."
Both teams had multiple chances to score in the final 20 minutes, but none bigger than Paul Vaughan's error off a Ben Hunt line break in front of the posts.
Tyson Frizell also broke into the backfield in the final minutes but couldn't find support on the inside, much to the angst of the 9137 crowd.
Tigers winger David Nofoaluma sealed the win with a try on fulltime.
Nofoaluma was also instrumental in the victory, carrying the ball for a game-high 179 metres, scoring two tries, breaking five tackles and pulling off a timely strip.
The Tigers started disastrously on Sunday evening after Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa was awarded a penalty try in just the second minute.
Ravalawa went 50 metres after fielding a bomb and looked to score off his own grubber, only to be edged off the ball by Corey Thompson.
Dragons recruit Brayden Wiliame doubled the lead in the eighth minute, but the Tigers responded quickly with Marshall's pinpoint kick for Nofoaluma.
Thompson's horror night continued when the ball slipped out of his grasp on a routine kick return, gifting the Dragons a 12-8 halftime lead.
That's when Marshall took over the contest, beginning with a solo try in the 50th minute before using his boot again for Leilua on the hour mark.
Tariq Sims, who pulled off two jolting first-half shots on Josh Reynolds, was also reported for a shoulder charge on Reynolds in the 76th minute.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor was disappointed with the amount of points they left on the field.
"We kept finding some spirit there, created opportunity time after time, but didn't get the ball over the strip," he said post-game.
"It's execution really. I know it's game one. But you'd like to be scoring them."