By Peter Rowe
Dominant performances from Tyron Cranston and Trent Trotter led North Beach Sea Eagles to a consecutive NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership grand final on Saturday after they saw off a late challenge from the Joondalup Giants to emerge 34-22 winners.
“We trained really well through the week and brought that into the game,” Sea Eagles coach Phil Douche said.
“Obviously the wind played a part but I was impressed with our performance.”
Douche’s pre-match preparations were disrupted by work call-ups for Shane Gillham and Keegan Laursen, something he admitted afterwards wasn’t ideal.
“It wasn’t great but it is what it is,” Douche said.
Trotter controlled the ruck with a scintillating display against a determined Giants side – but a poor first half that saw a number of ball handling errors gave the home side a 22-point halftime lead.
“He was superb and it’s something we need to work on for next week against Fremantle – to keep Trotts doing what he does best around the ruck, ‘Douche added.
“And Tyron brings a calmness to the team that is vital.”
Trotter set up the first try after five minutes, giving big forward Gersh Adams the chance to charge over from 10 metres before two minutes later, from the kickoff, the Sea Eagles marched back up the field and centre Jayden Grey broke through a sloppy Giants defensive line for fullback Bailey Millar to finish off a fast flowing move.
Rylee Captien got the Giants into the game three minutes later as the strong wind and rain made playing conditions tough, but it was the Sea Eagles who weathered the storm the better as winger Jayden De Worms added another to increase their lead.
Joondalup’s error count mounted, coughing up possession that allowed Trotter to maintain control and on 21 minutes his surging run up the middle – and a deft little flick pass out the back – set up Millar for his second.
The Giants kept putting themselves under pressure with ball handling errors and three minutes before the break North Beach took advantage again when a long pass found Grey unmarked to score.
Giants coach Taurean Sheehan admitted his side’s error count let them down.
“A little bit of disbelief creeps in after an error or two, and you find yourself back on that line and back on that line and it gets tough,” he said.
“We said if they (the Sea Eagles) put 30 on us we’d never come back from that, We tried but it was too much in the end.
“Our second half was better, but they capitalised on the wind in the first half and got good momentum. That made it tough.”
Cranston and Trotter continued where they left off in the first half to set up Dean Morgan in the corner as Joondalup struggled to control possession.
But just after the hour mark the Giants found some space for Josh Houghton to cross and reduce the deficit, as their comeback began.
“We gave away too many penalties in a row in that period,” Douche admitted. “We got caught up in the moment and I had to stop and say ‘what do we have to do to fix this’.
“When we got the ball back we didn’t know what to do with it, but we hung in there and go the job done.”
Giants Centre Payden Porter added another after a superb 40-20 kick from hooker Daniel Hansell Byrnes and Rylee Caption grabbed his second to close the gap further, but the Sea Eagles weren’t finished.
Kade MacDonald made one of his typical mesmerising runs that saw Grey score on the right flank and the Sea Eagles began celebrating another grand final appearance.
NRLWA Premiership Preliminary Final
North Beach Sea Eagles 34
Joondalup Giants 22