Sharks celebrate 30 years with big win
On a day the Rockingham Sharks celebrated 30 years of rugby league in the southern metropolitan region, the 2017 model gave the 1988 version plenty to cheer about with a solid, but scrappy 22-6 victory over South Perth Lions in their final regular season Smarter Than Smoking Premiership game.
The Sharks head into this weekend’s major semifinal clash with Fremantle full of confidence after the win, but they were made to work for it, especially in a second half littered with errors and passages of broken play.
“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got the job done,” coach Darren Shaw said.
“We had a couple of players out and they will be back next weekend so we’ll work hard this week and prepare for another big game.”
The Lions, with several first team regulars out, put in a solid performance and will be a threat against Joondalup Giants in the minor semi, but will rue the errors they made as they coughed up possession on three occasions to allow the home side to score.
With winger Connor Hudson making his 250th appearance in a Sharks jersey, from junior to senior, the Sharks wanted to get off to a quick start, but were foiled by the visitors’ defence.
The opening arm-wrestle continued for the first 17 minutes before Hudson played his part in the first try of the day.
An error from the Lions and a resulting penalty saw a break and cross-field move as young Josh Bransby — another club youngster — crossed the whitewash and Tyler Hunt’s conversion gave the home side a six-point advantage.
Thirteen minutes later the lead was extended after the superb Andy Jeffery went over from close range — from another South Perth error — and the Sharks went into the sheds 10-0 to the good.
After a timely interception, the Sharks were in again, as Tyler Hunt scored after a move set up by Reece Potter and Bransby.
The one blip in the game plan came in the 67th minute when the Lions scored, but full-back Benton Leme Pyako wrapped up the tie a minute later, when another South Perth mistake from the resulting kick-off gave the Sharks the opportunity to end the contest.
Three Rockingham teams will contest this weekend’s finals — the first grade monitor premiers facing Fremantle, reserves will play Willagee Bears and third grade will meet South Perth — all for a place in the grand final on September 16.
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