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Alex Mitchell

Benji's Tigers win first-up but RTS stars in NRL return

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck shone in his league return but couldn't stop the Warriors' loss to the Tigers. (John Davidson/AAP PHOTOS)

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has hit the ground running in his return to rugby league for the Warriors with a brilliant NRL trial display against Wests Tigers.

The Warriors superstar showed no sign of having not played the code since 2021 through his defection to rugby, emerging as clearly the most damaging player on the park in his side's narrow 18-16 loss in Christchurch.

Defeat for the home side came after they played more than an hour with 12 men after young prop Zyon Maiu'u was sent off early for a high shot on Tiger centre Declan Casey.

There were some positive signs for the Tigers in their first game under new coach and club legend Benji Marshall, with new halves pairing Aidan Sezer and Jayden Sullivan at times looking much more fluid in attack than previously.

Sezer's kicking game helped him take control of the contest and he scored a try with beautiful support play, while Sullivan benefited from the extra space to use his running game.

Tiger fans will be hoping the duo can continue to develop together after the club went rifled through 14 spine combinations last season.

Former All Black Tuivasa-Sheck looked powerful with ball-in-hand and ran for 139m and three tackle busts, while some brutal defensive hits - including a monster jam that forced Tigers fullback Jahream Bula to fumble - highlighted his difference-making ability.

His undermanned side showed genuine fight in their trial game, rallying when a man down to score score the last two tries.

Paul Roache pulled a try back with a dive out of dummy-half, before a clever grubber from Geronimo Doyle allowed winger Setu Tu to score in the corner.

But Ben Farr's missed conversion from the sideline meant the Tigers hung on for the two-point win.

West Tigers lock Alex Seyfarth opened the scoring thanks to Api Koroisau's crafty hooker work, while team-mate Alex Lobb made it 18-6 in the second half off the back of a kick.

Another Warriors returnee - utility Chanel Harris-Tavita - had a quite game and made three errors playing in the halves next to Luke Metcalf.

Maiu'u will likely face suspension after delivering a brutal high shot to new Tiger centre Casey, with the former Canterbury talent subsequently stretchered off the field with a concussion.

Tiger second-rower Samuela Fainu also spent time off the field in the second half for a swinging arm that collected Tom Ale in the face.

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