Wests Tigers 34
Generation next put on a show to warm the heart of every Wests Tigers fan as halfback Luke Brooks produced one of the most memorable NRL debuts in years to guide his side to a 34-18 win over St George Illawarra at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.
Rarely does reality match the hype though the 18-year-old appeared every bit the superstar in the making many experts have labelled him with two try-assists and a four-pointer of his own capping a wonderful first-up performance.
The statistics only tell half the story however with the Tigers - who have resembled a rabble for much of the season - appearing far more composed with the teenager at the helm.
Even Benji Marshall, who was pushed out to the centres, seemed to have found some of his old spark as he brought back fond memories with a dazzling run to set up a Braith Anasta try.
That was one of four first-half tries to the Tigers, including a combination the black, gold and white faithful will be hoping to see for some years yet as a Brooks pass set up Curtis Sironen for a 16-6 lead after 28 minutes.
Brooks also showed he was no slouch at the other end of the field as he stopped a rampaging Bronson Harrison just short of the line, with Harrison's desperate offload landing in the hands of Tim Simona, who raced the length of the field for a 22-6 half-time lead.
Two quick tries after the break to Adam Quinlan and Ben Creagh had the Dragons back within four before a deft Brooks grubber set up Simona's second.
Brooks continued to dominate as he secured his side a repeat set before finishing off an eye-catching debut with a scoot over the tryline from 20 metres out, the teenager given an early mark for his efforts by coach Michael Potter.
Wests Tigers 34 (T. Simona 2, B. Anasta, L. Brooks, J. Luani, C. Sironen tries; B. Marshall 5 goals) Dragons 18 (L. Ah Mau, B. Creagh, A. Quinlan tries; C. Stanley 3 goals)