Sharks take it home despite rough start
Rumours of a shark attack at North Beach proved correct on Saturday afternoon as the Rockingham Sharks extended their unbeaten run in WA’s premier rugby league competition to five with a hard-fought 24-10 victory over the Sea Eagles.
All four Sharks senior sides won their games — the first time in 30 years the club has achieved such success away at the North Beach club.
“On a cold Saturday afternoon, that is warming to hear,” coach Darren Shaw said after the game that had almost 30 minutes of no scoring in a first-half arm wrestle between last year’s premiers and this year’s most talked-about team.
Both sides looked rusty coming off a mid-season two-week break and the Sea Eagles forced the Sharks to defend early on after some sloppy ball control.
But they too fell foul of poor discipline before winger Mike Heather broke the deadlock on 29 minutes, racing onto a pass from fullback Benton Leme Pyako after Caleb Reedy had initiated an across-the-field move.
Reedy added the goal before centre Geordie Connolly grabbed a second seven minutes later.
In another swift-moving play in which the ball passed through six sets of hands, found its way to Connolly out wide to cross and Reedy added the extras to give the visitors a 12-0 half-time cushion.
But for the opening minutes of the second half Rockingham looked as if they were still in the sheds as North Beach started the better side.
A try and a conversion within a minute of the restart gave them some hope and they pushed the Sharks back in search of more points.
However, this Rockingham side has one of the best defensive records in the competition and they not only held out, but scored next.
After a long drive upfield, hooker Brandon Timlin scooted from dummy half 5m out, caught the defensive markers off-guard and found the whitewash.
Steve Widders converted and the visitors were beginning to see the finish line. But North Beach were not done and niggled away all afternoon, trying to slow the game and force errors.
When Julian Wish-Wilson was sin-binned for 10 minutes on the hour, after reacting to a North Beach punch with one of his own, the Sharks had to dig deep — and they did.
North Beach added a second try but could offer little more as the Sharks then sought to put enough daylight between themselves and their opponents.
In the 65th minute, a last tackle high kick from Widders deep into the corner wasn’t cleaned out by the North Beach defence and Andy Jeffrey scooped up a loose ball to extend the margin.
Widders kicked the conversion and the Sharks were home, another two points in the bag ahead.
Shaw said he was happy with the team’s defensive effort.
“We didn’t play as smart as we can, but it’s another win, and we keep the momentum going,” he said.
The women’s team won their game 10-6, the thirds won 34-18 and the reserves came back from 20-0 down at half-time to record a superb 28-24 victory with a hat-trick from winger Connor Hudson.
This weekend’s home game against the Giants will be live-streamed on the NRLWA’s YouTube channel and will kick off at 5.30pm.
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