They may have beaten Rockingham three times already this season, but North Beach Sea Eagles coach John Hough says his side aren’t taking anything for granted ahead of their WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership Round 17 clash against the Sharks at Charles Riley Reserve on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles sit top of the ladder after running in a season-high 15 tries against the Willagee Bears last weekend – recording an 88-6 win.
Fullback Brad Sharpham grabbed the headlines with six tries, while five-eight Charlie Pulsford added 28 points from the kicking tee.
“Sharpy’s been working well – he’s moved in from the wing to the fullback position. We’ve worked on a few things to help him push through and he’s managed to do that,” Hough said.
“Charlie played particularly well as well – his goal kicking was excellent.”
Despite this, Hough knows his side must be prepared for Saturday as they take on a Rockingham side desperate to play finals football.
The Sharks currently occupy fourth spot on the ladder – with only a superior points differential keeping them above the Joondalup Giants for the last finals berth.
“They’re in a really big fight with Joondalup to get that fourth spot,” Hough said.
“They’re going to come here and give everything they’ve got. We have to be ready to combat that and what we’re preparing for this week is a really big onslaught from Rockingham.”
Form and history is on the side of the hosts, however, with North Beach beating Rockingham on each of the three times they have met this season, including a 48-0 shutout in Round 12.
“They’re in a last-chance saloon, so this game’s completely different from the last three,” Hough said.
“We’re focussing on making sure we’re ready for the fire they’re going to throw at us this week.”
In team news, the Sea Eagles welcome back leading points scorer, Ben Taylor, who returns from a two-game suspension, while Josh Toole and Cairo Takarangi also come into the starting side.
On the flip-side, the Sharks are battling an injury crisis, with young-gun Will Smith and forwards Luke Hughes and Josh Jerome unavailable for selection.
West Coast Pirates hooker Jamie Vogler will be handed his First Grade debut, while Kieren Crowe shifts to the centres.
In the weekend’s other fixtures, the Fremantle Roosters will look to lock up a top-two finish when they face the South Perth Lions, while Joondalup will hope to return to the top four when they host Willagee.