Tom Trbojevic has warmed up for Origin II in style to help Manly overcome an eight-point deficit and beat St George Illawarra 34-14 at Lottoland on Sunday afternoon.
Trbojevic scored a late try, churned out 334 metres with two line breaks, nine tackle busts, five offloads and a try assist in a dazzling return performance since injuring his hamstring at the same venue two months ago.
The timing couldn't be any more perfect for the Sea Eagles fullback ahead of the second Holden State of Origin clash with Des Hasler's men piling on 34 unanswered points after the Dragons skipped out to an 8-0 lead early.
St George Illawarra came out firing with Blues forwards Paul Vaughan (150 metres) and Tyson Frizell (127 metres) setting a platform early but ran out of puff after losing Cameron McInnes to a nasty head knock a quarter of the way into the game.
A Ben Hunt try close to the line shortly was followed by a penalty goal from in front as the Sea Eagles struggled with discipline, but the visitors' momentum came to a stop when McInnes left the field.
Both sides were without their starting No.9's soon after when Sea Eagles rake Apisai Koroisau went down with a leg problem.
Match: Sea Eagles v Dragons
Round 14 -
Venue: Lottoland, Sydney
Manly begun to hit the accelerator after an opening quarter of defence but a Jonus Pearson try saver on Tom Trbojevic denied certain points after a Reuben Garrick line-break.
The home side didn't have to wait long to get their first points through Garrick though, with Daly Cherry-Evans placing a deft kick for the winger to plant the ball down in quick fashion.
A poor pass from Reece Robson, replacing McInnes at hooker, turned the ball over for the Dragons and Sea Eagles five-eighth Cade Cust made light work of the left edge defence with a short kick for Dylan Walker to score.
Manly extended their lead six minutes into the second half with a strip call on Jack Gosiewski allowing the prop to burrow over from close range in the ensuing set.
From there the Sea Eagles continued to march down the field as their ability to create second phase came into play.
A line break from Trbojevic – his first of the match – helped set up a simple try for Cade Cust in the following play.
Tom Trbojevic break lays platform for Cust try
Trbojevic was in the game again when he put his foot on the accelerator to split Dragons defenders through the middle and send Manese Fainu over under the posts.
The game was iced when Trbojevic pounced on a loose Corey Norman chip kick to race 75 metres to the line.
Euan Aitken got a consolation try down the right edge on fulltime but the afternoon belonged to Manly's No.1 in front of 8,468 fans on the Northern Beaches.