Manly 12 Cronulla 24

John Morris having fun on the park during the Manly Waringah Sea Eagles vs The Cronulla Sharks at Brookvale oval.

First outing … John Morris has fun on the park during the Manly-Cronulla game at Brookvale Oval on Friday night. Photo: Brendan Esposito

MANLY prop Brent Kite admitted to seeking assurance from head trainer Don Singe to ensure the Manly club was clean of any use of illicit drugs and substances.

The veteran said the playing group at the Sea Eagles weren't talking about the drama that has rocked Australian sport, but he did make sure the club hadn't taken part in any wrong-doing.

''Personally, I spoke to Donny Singe and he was pretty happy,'' Kite said. ''He had a keen role in overseeing anything the boys were taking. I'm really confident in Donny.''

Anthony Watmough in a tackle during the game between Manly and Cronulla  Brookvale oval. Click for more photos

NRL - Manly Waringah vs Cronulla

Anthony Watmough in a tackle during the game between Manly and Cronulla Brookvale oval. Photo: Brendan Esposito

The two clubs at the forefront of rugby league's drug drama opened their campaigns on Friday night under mounting speculation over their integrity.

In a trial that was dubbed the Stephen Danks Cup, Manly and Cronulla took to Brookvale Oval to round out what had been a tumultuous 48 hours for both clubs.

It was a match that should've been about the maiden appearances of Beau Ryan and Michael Gordon in Cronulla colours, while also providing a brief insight into what Manly fans can expect in 2013.

But unfortunately for rugby league, it was the sideshow to the major talking point among its fans.

Even Kite, albeit jokingly, couldn't help question Danks' qualifications after the match.

''I would like to find out though, Danky … I know they have investigations going on … but if someone can tell me if he's a real doctor?'' Kite said. ''I've had my doubts for a long time, just on qualifications.''

When the football finally did get under away, both teams played second-string sides in the opening 40 minutes, fielding most of their available NRL players in the second half.

It was a night rugby league saw its first player penalised for a shoulder charge, an honour that went to Manly prop Brenton Lawrence.

It wasn't the only shoulder charge of the match, with Richie Fa'aoso penalised for a hit that decked John Morris and left the Sharks hooker dazed.

Manly's campaign last year ended in horror circumstances against Melbourne, and this year didn't begin any better for Geoff Toovey's men, who watched the ball bounce over the dead-ball line from the kick to the NRL-based half.

After Cronulla's fringe first graders helped the Sharks race out to a 20-4 half time lead, albeit without goal-kicks, it was Ryan who crossed for his first try for Cronulla just nine minutes into the half.

The former Tigers winger outleaped Ben Farrar to latch on to a Chad Townsend cross-field chip to register first points in the first-grade trial.

The Sea Eagles hit back through their custodian Brett Stewart, who sliced through some soft defence up the middle to put Jamie Buhrer in under the post.

Daly Cherry-Evans sent a scare through Brookvale Oval when he limped away from a challenge by Sam Tagataese, and while he didn't finish the match, looked to have shaken off the effects of the tackle that left the Sharks back-rower with a gash above his eye.

With Paul Gallen, Chris Heighington, Luke Lewis, Ben Pomeroy, Todd Carney, Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita not playing for Cronulla, and Glenn Stewart, Kieran Foran, Jason King, David Williams and Jorge Taufua in the stands for Manly, it was far from an attractive contest.