Lyon impresses at five-eighth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lyon impresses at five-eighth

By Grace Uhr 05/03/2007 05:54:12 AM Comments (0)

Star recruit Jamie Lyon put his hand up for the five-eighth job at Manly with an encouraging hit-out in the Sea Eagles' 14-12 NRL trial win over North Queensland.

Manly are yet to make a final decision on whether Lyon or Travis Burns will wear the No.6 jersey for their NRL season opener against Canberra but the former Parramatta centre's display in Cairns will give coach Des Hasler plenty to think about.

Heading into the game, Hasler had said performances in the trial could be the deciding factor on who would join captain Matt Orford in the halves.

But speaking after the match, Hasler said he was not about to make decisions until some in-depth, post-match analysis.

"I thought they all performed admirably," Hasler said.

"They were good so we'll go back and assess it, have a look at it and make a call then."

After making the top eight last season, Manly open their 2007 campaign in two weeks at Brookvale Oval against the Raiders, who were surprise 26-4 victors against the West Tigers in Brisbane.

Hasler would have been optimistic about the season ahead after the Sea Eagles' defensive effort, which allowed just two Cowboys tries.

This was despite many attacking opportunities, spearheaded by North Queensland fullback Matt Bowen who made a strong return to form.

"It was great defensive effort, it was very good," Hasler said.

"It was probably a little bit messy, but the conditions made it hard.

"But we came up defensively because they had a fair bit of ball, but that's something we worked on hard over the off-season, so I was pleased."

Despite finishing on the wrong side of the ledger, Cowboys coach Graham Murray could still extract several positives from the game, including the blending of his own new halves combination, Johnathan Thurston and Jason Smith.

In his second game for the club, Smith played the perfect pivot role, pressuring the Manly line with some probing in-goal kicks and several precision cut-out passes that gave his team-mates room to move.

"He's got great vision and I still think him and JT (Thurston) can work better again," Murray said.

Interchange player Jackson Nicolau, originally from Innisfail and recruited off-season from the Melbourne Storm, relieved both Smith and Thurston at times and showed some positive signs.

Murray also praised Bowen and hooker Aaron Payne.

"I thought Payne was one of our better players there too and he played long minutes," Murray said.

"So there's all those positives coming out of it - Payne long minutes, Bowen back to a bit of running form and Thurston and Smith coming together."

Thurston captained the side but Murray is still to decide on who will take on the full-time leadership duties following the retirement of Travis Norton, with Thurston and Payne the likely candidates.

"I got to speak to the ref a bit, which was alright, but the board will make their decision during the week and we'll just go from there," Thurston said.

The Cowboys play defending premiers Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in round one.

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