Rockingham Sharks find their bite to record emphatic NRLWA victory

Peter RoweSound Telegraph
The Sharks' Yorkshire duo Jack Wray and Nathan Hill.
Camera IconThe Sharks' Yorkshire duo Jack Wray and Nathan Hill.

Rockingham Sharks turned pre-game predictions on their head with an emphatic 44-14 win over the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs on Saturday in round 3 of the NRLWA Premiership.

The Sharks, who had been written off before the game, after two early season losses, won all four grades at Charlotte’s Vineyard, with the women’s League Tag winning 20-10, Val Murphy third grade cruising to a 36-4 victory and the reserves notching a remarkable 19-18 win, thanks to a 40m field goal from John Taituha with barely 10 seconds left on the clock.

It was left to a reshaped Sharks first-grade side to complete a perfect day — and they didn’t disappoint.

After slugging it out at both ends for 20 minutes, the Sharks were first on the scoreboard as five- eighth Rob Smith grabbed his first of four tries.

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Andrew Jeffery gathered Smith’s kick through and passed back to the livewire half-back to race through to score. Jack Wray, returning to the side, kicked the extras and the Sharks were on their way.

When Ellenbrook captain-coach Jarek Goebel left the field with an ankle injury, the game went from bad to worse for the Bunnies as the visitors gave them no time to settle on the ball.

Dominating ruck play, the Sharks forced errors as the home side struggled to put together their sets.

Smith added another minutes later after a Wray chip kick and the Sharks were in complete control.

Mikey Heather was next to score on the half-hour after a strong run from Luke Hughes in the centres put the Sharks a metre from the line.

Swift ball play helped Heather cross in the corner before the Rabbitohs got on the board three minutes before the break.

A 16-4 half-time lead was well deserved and extended six minutes in to the second stanza when Hughes, a threat all day, powered his way across to score.

Wray added another two points as the Sharks continued to dominate.

Smith’s pace was a problem for Ellenbrook all afternoon, and set up by some strong forward breaks, he grabbed his hat-trick in the 48th minute, carving up the Bunnies’ defensive line to score in the corner.

The Rabbitohs added another minutes later but there was to be no miracle comeback for them — from a line drop-out Jeffery tore a huge hole in their defence for Logan Barclay to score.

Wray’s kick made the score 32-10 and the rabbit-proof defence was well and truly broken.

After 10 minutes in the sin bin, full-back Nathan Hill scored after some clever play from Keiren Crowe before Smith added his fourth with eight minutes left on the clock, with a cheeky sneak play to dive across the line after Ricky Hayes had punctured another hole in a tiring Ellenbrook defence.

Wray added the extras from in front of the posts and the Sharks, despite conceding another late try from the home side picked up their first points of the season.

The Sharks face Joondalup Giants at home on Saturday (3.30pm) at Rockingham Mazda Arena in the NRLWA’s live TV game.

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