By Peter Rowe
Rockingham’s late bid for a final spot ended in defeat on Saturday, but it wasn’t for the want of trying as the Sharks went down 34-20 to minor premiers Fremantle to wrap up the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play regular season.
The Sharks gave the Roosters ‘one helluva fright’, leading 20-18 at one stage before coach and captain, Delane Edwards and Duane Butler, both scored to end any thoughts of a shock result.
“I was really worried,” Roosters captain Duane Butler said.
“Rockingham turned up and gave us a big game. Delane (Edwards) saved us with his try, that was a turning point and put some points between us.”
The Roosters jumped to a 12-0 lead thanks to tries from winger Te Toa Parkinson and backrower Ezra Taomia before the Sharks, missing seven players from their win over Joondalup last week, opened their account, thanks to winger Kurt De Amyand.
Fremantle quickly added a third try on the half hour before debutant Vaalele Sione crossed just before the break.
But it was the second half that proved to be the more exciting as Liam Johnson scored in the corner to close the gap before De Amyand added a second, leaping to take a high kick, taking the visitors into a surprise lead.
On the hour mark an upset was a distinct possibility, before Edwards took his own feed from a scrum to race 80 metres to score.
Fremantle extended their slender four-point lead with nine minutes left as the Sharks tired, Sonny Kerr taking a superb pass from fullback Paoroa Kemp to cross and when Butler charged down a kick to race away and score with two minutes left the four playoff spots were finalised.
Frustrating was the word Sharks player-coach Tom Murphy used to describe Rockingham’s season.
“It’s good to hear from other teams that we competed and were tough to beat but we didn’t get the job done in the end,” he said.
“We definitely had a crack and at one point looked like we could pull it off, but Fremantle are a very good side.”
North Beach Sea Eagles came back from an 8-0 halftime deficit to record a 40-18 win over Joondalup Giants thanks to hat-tricks from fullback Bailey Millar and hooker Trent Trotter and another from halfback Tyron Cranston to end their regular season in second spot, with Fremantle up next in the major semi-final next weekend.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Beach, an error strewn first half had coach Phil Douche wondering if the ‘bad old days’ had returned.
“The first 25 minutes it looked like that,” Douche said of a scenario that haunted him early in the season, when consistency was an issue.
“We corrected it at half-time and I was very pleased with our second half performance.”
Douche complimented Joondalup for their first half showing, “they got the better of us from the start, kicked really well and got a couple of 40-20s that hurt us.
“But we managed to get more speed at the ruck in the second 40 and began to play around them.”
Joondalup live to fight another day, finishing fourth and travelling to South Perth next weekend.
“A Domanyc Fiddow-Kele try and a Gus Marshal penalty had given us that halftime lead but our communication on the field let us down in the second half,” coach Taurean Sheehan said.
“It really was a game of two halves – polar opposite 40 minutes.”
Donny Kahu Pokere and Daniel Hansel Byrnes pulled two tries back for the visitors, but by then the game was lost.
“But next week it’s finals and we’ll get our bodies right, look at what we have to do, and go again,” an upbeat Sheehan added.