By Peter Rowe
Fremantle Roosters sealed the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Minor Premiership on Saturday, but were made to fight all the way, eventually emerging 24-18 winners over the Joondalup Giants.
Union recruit Darcy Grealish had given the home side an early lead before the Roosters got into gear with three back-to-back tries, and one on the halftime siren, from Kerrod Hignett, Mitch Wade-Whalan and Paora Kemp.
Joel Irvine was first to cross in the second half before Nick Riggs added another Fremantle try with Luke Turner’s effort late in the game setting up a grandstand finish.
“Defence won them the game,” Giants coach Taurean Sheehan said.
“We really had a go in the second half and got it back to six points with 90 seconds left, but they hung in there, so all credit to them.”
And hang in they did, despite a below par performance.
“Iv’e been saying it for a while, we still haven’t found top form,” Roosters captain Duane Butler said.
“We made it hard on ourselves in the second half, not marking up properly, but our scrambling defence was good.
“We weathered the storm – the Giants threw everything at us and we got the points to take the minor premiership.”
Looking at his own side’s performance, Sheehan said missed opportunities when they arose, and critical small errors were their downfall.
“We had chances but we couldn’t finish them all, and as I said, big D from Fremantle was the key.”
Despite missing several key players, North Beach coach Phil Douche was delighted with his side’s performance, beating South Perth 24-14 to win the annual Blue Force Cup contest at Charles Riley Reserve.
A first half that saw six tries and Beach domination for much of it, had Douche purring as the home side celebrated Adam Roy’s 150th game for the club.
“A great job well done,” Douche said. “We had a few out and our bench was a bit light, but we got off to a good start and controlled the ruck.
“The second half was a little different and we made a few errors which gave South Perth the opportunity to get back into the contest, but there’s confidence in this team right now.”
Big forward Gershom Adams was again a standout, scoring twice, with further tries from Bailey Millar and Ted Shand, before winger Brock McCaskill wrapped up the points seven minutes from time with a try in the corner.
“Yes, Adams did some damage to us,” Souths assistant Paul Brown said afterwards. “ He terrorised us with a couple of tries from 10 metres out.
“But we just didn’t get off the bus, a very disappointing performance.
“We were better in the second half but it was just not our day.”
Big Centre Corban Daniels was taken to hospital after suffering a shoulder injury and looks like missing next week’s clash with Joondalup.
Tim Noble was the Lions’ lone scorer in the first half, diving over from a metre out, and Keiran Paish scored the first try of the second half after 60 minutes before debutant Sam Pointing came off the bench to add another – Pointing the son of former Souths captain-coach Grant Pointing.