2023 NRL WA Premiership Review – Round 09

By Peter Rowe

A solid first half that saw 22 points scored gave a fired up Rockingham Sharks the edge in their NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership clash at Joondalup on Saturday.

The understrength Giants, missing a couple of first team players, struggled to get the ball out of their half for much of the first 40 minutes, eventually crossing in the 33rd minute.

Tries from captain Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards, Kelvin Coleman and Karlo Trego had given the Sharks an impressive lead before fullback Hayden Wood added another on the stroke of halftime.

But for the Giants that try was to be it for the day as the Sharks powered on in the second half making inroads into a tired defence before adding two more scores through centres Logan Barclay and Rueben Baillie.

“I was pleased with the first half – a big show,” Sharks player-coach Tom Murphy said. “But I thought we slowed up a bit in the second half. We still have room to improve.”

Defence was key for the south coast team, as they held the Giants at bay, giving them little space and forcing them to kick from their own 40 yard line on last tackle.

“We tried to go bang for bang early on and it didn’t work.” coach Taurean Sheehan said.

“And when we tried to then shift it out wide that was closed down as well. Fair play to the Sharks they turned up wanting it more than us.

“We were out muscled, it was as simple as that.”

The Giants also suffered a season-ending injury to Jo-Jo Ranger, the centre snapping a ligament in his leg requiring surgery this week.

“It wasn’t as if we we didn’t give effort – the boys certainly gave plenty of that. They (Rockingham) were the better team, who wanted it more on the day,” a disappointed Sheehan added.

Fremantle Roosters celebrated their 75th anniversary with a dinner on Saturday evening – after they had beaten South Perth 30-8.

While the score would indicate a comfortable win, captain Duane Butler said it was far from it.

“We dominated the first half but made so many mistakes,” Butler said.

“II errors in the first half and then five more in the second.

“We just couldn’t hold on to the ball.”

The Roosters held a slender 6-4 lead at the break, with tries from Butler and Souths halfback Luke-David  Talamaivao, before tries from Bjorn Crotty, Cooper Sanders, Delane Edwards and Ezra Taomia sealed the win with a late consolation try from Terry Cameron-Ramea for the Lions.

South Perth assistant coach Paul Brown said it was possibly their worst performance of the season, adding that with just 40 per cent completion of sets, they didn’t deserve to win.

“We didn’t have any ball in the first half and when we did we made silly errors that gifted it back to Freo,” Brown said.

“I thought our scrambling defence was reasonable in the first half and with the score 6-4 at the break we had a chance.

“We then had two sin-bins and at one stage only had 11 players on the field, so that didn’t help.

“It was tough day but we go again next week against Joondalup.”

Photos: Libby McMillan – Rockingham Sharks