In a game which lived up to the billing, Joondalup Giants handed the North Beach Sea Eagles their first loss of the 2018 WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership with a hard-fought 22-14 win at Admiral Park on Saturday night.
Tries to Fernando Ekeroma, Joell Irvine, Juronia Raea and Rodney Mauga handed the Giants bragging rights in the first North of the River Derby for 2018 in a game where two yellow cards and one red were shown.
In wet conditions, both sides struggled to complete their sets early – the first points of the contest coming via the boot of Joondalup fullback Davey Martin.
“It was a bit slippy and we made a few errors in the first half which cost us.” Joondalup Coach Darren Smith said.
“We just had to believe we could pull it together in the second half, and we cut those errors out, stuck to our game-plan and came away with the win.”
With a combined twenty tries between them before this game, it was never going to take long for the first four-pointer – Sea Eagles fullback Kahan Joyce-Vaughan getting on the end of halfback Jeremey Wallace’s grubber into the in-goal area on the quarter hour mark.
Ben Taylor added the extras before slotting a 45-metre penalty to give his side an 8-2 edge.
The Giants, coming off an impressive 32-0 win over Willagee last week hit back – reserve forward Ekeroma crashing over under the sticks.
Martin knocked over the conversion to tie the game up at 8-8.
The hosts weren’t level for long, however, as Wallace notched his second try assist of the game – this time finding captain Jake Keating to cross over and give North Beach a 14-8 lead heading into the sheds.
Whatever Coach Smith said to his troops at half-time had the desired impact, as Joondalup rallied to score two tries in the opening 10 minutes of the second-half to turn the contest on its head.
Irvine and Raea recording four-pointers to give the hosts an 18-14 lead.
Just as it looked the Giants were about to take control of the game, the Sea Eagles were handed a lifeline when Joondalup lock Ollie Callan was sin-binned after giving up consecutive penalties in the defensive third.
North Beach failed to take advantage despite their one-man advantage before tempers started to flare midway through the second-half.
After a scrappy play-the-ball, Giants forward George Nalesoni was shown his marching orders for throwing a punch, while Sea Eagles five-eight Joshua Toole was given 10 in the bin.
With the game now 11 on 12, winger Rodney Mauga secured the points for the Giants with a late try in the corner.
Joondalup now moves to 2-1 on the season, only behind North Beach on points differential.
In other results around the grounds, Rockingham Sharks came from 22-6 down to claim a 28-24 win over South Perth Lions for their first victory of the season, while reigning Premiers Fremantle Roosters put on an attacking clinic routing the Willagee Bears 58-4 to remain undefeated.