2023 NRL WA Premiership Review – Round 08

By Peter Rowe

A large and partisan crowd at Rockingham witnessed another clinical second half performance from the Fremantle Roosters as the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play league leaders came away with a 34-20 win against the Sharks on Saturday evening.

A hat-trick from skipper Duane Butler proved decisive as the Roosters eventually saw off the challenge of the Sharks, who remain bottom with just one win this season.

“My mum is away in Melbourne and missed it,” Butler said of his three-try performance.

“I rang her and told I had scored a hat-trick, she was fuming she missed it.”

The Sharks took an early lead when halfback Kaelin Heremaia-Phillips crossed after four minutes, but Fremantle quickly hit back and went into the sheds at the break leading 24-14.

The home side took advantage of good possession early in the second half to close the gap thanks to a Jonathan Mato try and were in the ascendancy before a loose pass under pressure coughed up the ball for Butler to race 70 metres to score and wrap up the points.

“We’re still making errors and the Sharks really pushed us early in the game,” Butler added.

“There’s still room for improvement.”

Sharks player-coach Tom Murphy believed this new side was improving. “But it’s taken longer than I expected,” he said.

“We started really well but then fell back into bad habits. From a team selection point of view, it’s hard to play the same 13 every week, due to work commitments.

“We’ve been in every game this season, but we need to be more ruthless and play the full 80.”

Joondalup kept the pressure on Fremantle with a solid 30-22 win over North Beach in the other game of the day.

The Giants had tries from Beau White, Davy Martin and Jarod Poi to thank for an 18-6 halftime lead and further scores from Brad Sparrow and Rylee Captein kept them well in front before Jeremy Wallace and Jayden De Vorms pulled it back for the Sea Eagles.

Player-coach Taurean Sheehan, who was forced to watch from the sidelines with fractured ribs, was pleased with how his forwards dominated the game.

“Our middles were awesome,” Sheehan said. “Especially Beau White, who played the entire 80 minutes. You don’t see that very often from a middle.”

But Sheehan said there was still room for improvement.

“We’re still having five to ten minute lapses and letting the opposition get on top,” he said.

“We need to sort that out.”

Despite the loss, North Beach coach Phil Douche took lots of positives from the game.

“Silly errors in the first half cost us, but I was really pleased to see how we came back in the second half when we had no bench,” Douche said.

At one stage we had a player sinbinned and another injured with no replacement. We nearly ended up with just eleven on the park.”

The Sea Eagles were forced to shuffle their forward pack just hours before kickoff with late withdrawals through illness, and Douche conceded it was a concern.

Forced to absorb a lot of early pressure from a big Joondalup pack, they had a battle on their hands.

“We lost a lot of strength up the middle and that put pressure on our young outside backs,” Douche said.

“But, with so many missing, I was pleased with what I saw late on in the game to close the gap.”

Joondalup Giants and North Beach Sea Eagles wore special jumpers to promote MND Round on Saturday.