Sharks crow as Roosters get the chop

Pete RoweSound Telegraph
MVP Geordie Connelly scored twice against the Roosters.
Camera IconMVP Geordie Connelly scored twice against the Roosters. Credit: Pitt, Rachel Pitt

Rockingham Sharks head into the mid-winter break just one point behind leaders Fremantle Roosters after an awesome defensive display to win the game of the round 32-16 at Franklin Offshore Arena last Saturday afternoon.

In a royal battle of a first half, the Sharks went into the sheds 12-10 after sustaining 15 minutes of continued pressure from a Roosters team trying every move to find a defensive hole.

Andy Jeffery led the tackle count with 35, closely followed by Brandon Timlin, 31, Josh Bransby, 28 and Pete Worth 22, in a defensive stand-off worthy of any grand final.

“We had to pull out all the stops on defence and half-time couldn’t come soon enough,” coach Darren Shaw admitted.

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“We lost Anthony Bowman before kick-off with a hand injury but it was good to see Timlin back in the squad.

“We dug deep and came through to put on a superb second-half performance.

“Fair play to Freo, they are a very good side but on the day we were better.”

Steve Widders opened the scoring in the fourth minute after a clever line break that put the half-back under the posts to score.

Tyler Hunt, in for the injured Caleb Reedy, put in a solid performance, kicking the points as the home side sought to gain early domination.

It did not take long for the Roosters to get on the scoreboard and with the kick converted, we had a ball game.

But the Sharks are a tough and tight unit these days and three minutes later, centre Bransby, another youth product, pounced on a grubber kick to the corner to score.

Hunt’s conversion was unsuccessful but the Sharks held a lead they were never to relinquish.

Four minutes from time, and after a massive defensive effort in which they defended four sets and two line drop-outs, the Roosters found the whitewash and the teams went into the break separated by two points.

Shaw said he told his side to keep completing sets and to put pressure on the opposition every time they had the ball and that is exactly how the second stanza unfolded.

Eight minutes into the half, the Sharks broke the deadlock.

And it was MVP Geordie Connelly who did the damage, going over on the short side to score.

The Sharks were on a roll and the Roosters lost their shape as player-coach Delane Edwards tried desperately to get his side back in the game.

The loss of half-back James Aspden through injury did not help as the Sharks turned the screw.

But the visitors were not giving up and answered with a well-worked try under the posts — and with the kick good, the scores were locked 16-16.

The Sharks used clever pressure to force the opposition into errors at crucial times.

When centre Hayden Dangen-Toby crossed in the 56th minute, the tide was turning.

Hunt’s kick was wide and within minutes, the home side extended their lead further.

Connelly, the danger man all afternoon on the left flank, picked up a loose cross-field kick from Benny Leme Payako on last tackle that did not look too dangerous. His clever chip and chase to score was the try of the day and earned a standing ovation from the Sharks faithful.

Widders added the extras and the Sharks were almost home.

The Roosters, still reeling, then saw Widders pick up a loose ball after a knock-on to race clear from the halfway line to score and with his conversion, the day’s work was complete.

In other games, the women’s side went down 30-0 to the visitors but the Val Murphy Thirds bounced back from two successive defeats to win 30-12 and the reserves showed their class with a 50-0 triumph.

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