Halfback Jahrome Hughes has set up four tries to pilot the Melbourne Storm to a rousing 42-20 victory over the Warriors in their traditional Anzac Day clash at AAMI Park.
Earlier on Sunday, the Roosters were comfortable 34-10 winners over St George Illawarra in Sydney’s Anzac Day centrepiece match, while Manly destroyed Wests Tigers 40-6.
In Melbourne, the Storm raced to a 26-4 half-time lead, with Hughes having a hand in all but one of the five tries in the opening 40 minutes.
Ex-Bulldogs back Reimis Smith finished with a double, as did winger Josh Addo-Carr among the final haul of eight tries for Melbourne, while Warriors winger Ken Maumalo collected a hat-trick.
The Warriors pulled off a shock before kick-off, shifting superstar fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the wing and blooding 18-year-old Reece Walsh, who only joined from the Broncos two weeks ago.
Walsh fumbled his first touch but added some spark to the Warriors attack, while another teenager, Rocco Berry, also made a solid NRL debut in the centres.
But the surprise switches did little to rattle the Storm who had their first try after three minutes.
Rangy centre Smith fended off the defence and popped a pass for Hughes, who nudged through a kick off the side of his boot for winger George Jennings to touch down in the corner.
While the Warriors struck back through Maumalo, Jennings’s night was soon over when he suffered a head knock in a tackle, with Warriors second rower Josh Curran sent to the sin-bin and placed on report.
The Storm pushed the lead out to 12-4 while Curran was off, with Hughes putting Felise Kaufusi through a hole.
In the space of six minutes Hughes also set up tries for Nicho Hynes, who replaced injured fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, and Smith in a commanding display.
Ben Murdoch-Masila spun through some Storm defence to open the second half with a Warriors try, before the home side cranked up their attack again.
Maumalo managed to dot down in the 78th minute to bank his third and final try of the night but it was the Storm who were celebrating.
Roosters outclass Dragons
St George Illawarra’s Jordan Pereira is facing a stint on the sidelines for a sickening hit on James Tedesco during the Dragons’ loss to the Sydney Roosters.
In another concussion concern for the Roosters, Tedesco missed the second half of the blockbuster Anzac Day match at the SCG after failing his head injury assessment (HIA).
The dangerous hit was put on report and it cost Pereira 10 minutes in the sin-bin, activating the 18th-man rule for the second time in less than 24 hours.
With the Roosters on the attack chasing down a 6-4 Dragons lead, Tedesco smoothly tapped on the ball before he was blindsided by Pereira’s swinging arm while falling.
The Roosters captain stayed down obviously rattled by the hit and went on to fail his HIA during the half-time break.
Regardless of Pereira’s punishment, the head knock is a concern for the Roosters, who have had more than their fair share of concussion problems this season.
Skipper Boyd Cordner is sidelined as part of a conservative return-to-play process, while Jake Friend was forced to retire due to ongoing concussions.
Forwards Sitili Tupouniua and Lindsay Collins have also spent time on the sidelines this year after heavy head knocks.
The latest event is also a worrying sign for Tedesco, who was knocked out and heavily concussed in 2020’s final State of Origin match at the end of September.
The moment sparked a huge turning point in Sunday’s game.
Down to 12 men, the Roosters pounced twice in five minutes, first through Tupouniua’s power running close to the line and then when halfback Sam Walker put Nat Butcher through a gap.
The Roosters took the half-time lead at 16-6 and did not look back.
Teenage half Walker again defied his limited NRL experience to star for the Roosters, scoring a try of his own to earn the Anzac Medal in front of the 37,620-strong crowd at the SCG.
Sam Verrill’s return from an ACL injury was a huge success, playing the last half an hour of the game and setting up Collins for a try.
Tedesco’s replacement Joey Manu and Daniel Tupou also got across the line in a convincing victory.
Tom Trbojevic runs riot in Manly win
Tom Trbojevic’s immense influence at Manly has again been laid bare, with the star fullback pivotal in four tries as the Sea Eagles thrashed Wests Tigers at Western Sydney Stadium.
In a game that prompted calls for him to be picked as New South Wales fullback, Trbojevic broke the line in successive sets late in the first half to set up tries that turned the match.
It came as part of a magical five-minute run for Manly, as Daly Cherry-Evans loomed up in support play twice and Martin Taupau also bagged one.
Trbojevic then backed it up with another assist and a try of his own after the half-time break, while Cherry-Evans finished with a 40-20 and two assists to go with his double.
The win made it three straight for the Sea Eagles. They are now 3-4 after making a horror start to the season.
In contrast, the Tigers are now off to the worst start in the joint-venture’s history, having won just one of their first seven matches.
After Luciano Leilua gave the Tigers an early lead with their only try, Trbojevic showed again why Manly are now 17.5 points better off per game when he is on the field over the past three years.
Cherry-Evans’s first came when Josh Schuster skipped, stepped and forced his way through the line and put the halfback over with a no-look ball.
In the next set it was time for Trbojevic.
Twice he bust through the line, with Cherry-Evans the beneficiary on the first and Taupau the second after the halfback juggled a pass and cost himself a hat-trick.
After half-time Trbojevic claimed his 50th try while in support play after Cherry-Evans put Haumole Olakau’atu through, before putting on a quick ball for Reuben Garrick to score.
Meanwhile, Kieran Foran also got his first try back in Manly colours during another sorry afternoon for a Tigers side that missed 33 tackles.