Lions roar against Sharks

Credit: Tom Campbell

The South Perth Lions roared to their fourth win of the NRL WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership season after downing the Rockingham Sharks 38-18 at George Burnett Park on Saturday.

The Lions ran in seven team tries in a polished display.

“It’s sticking to our guns and sticking to our process and we ended up with a result – it’s pleasing,” Coach Hayden Fisher said.

With both sides missing four players on Combined Affiliated States duty, the Lions started the brighter and took a deserved lead when Isaac Thomas spotted a hole to dart over from dummy half after just eight minutes.

Harry Debique added the extras to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.

A handling error from South Perth fullback Kade McDonald presented the Sharks with a perfect opportunity to strike back straight away, and last year’s Minor Premiers took full advantage – Matthew Rangiuia pouncing after Kuraau Temata flapped at a high ball.

Jack Wray couldn’t add the extras, as the English halfback endured a rare off-day from the kicking tee.

The Lions, coming off an upset win over the Fremantle Roosters in Round Seven looked strong in attack and grabbed their second try of the afternoon when James McIlhutton touched down in his return to First Grade.

The Lions would add further damage to the scoreline shortly after – Bruce Anderson intercepting Wray’s pass to go 80 metres downfield before Debique finished off the move to put his side in control at 18-4.

In desperate need of a lift, Luke Hughes stepped up for Rockingham with a powerful run through the heart of South Perth’s defence to dot down before Josh Neal got on the end of Wray’s inviting pass to cross in the corner to make it a six-point game at the main break.

With the contest in the balance, the first try of the second half was always going to be crucial and it came by the way of Te Karawa Kahaki who dotted down on the left wing to extend the hosts’ lead.

From then on, it was all South Perth – McDonald showing the Sharks defence a clean pair of heels to grab his sixth try of the season before Anderson and Matthew Pewhairangi-Barnfather kept the scoreboard ticking over with late tries.

Rangiuia grabbed a late consolation try for Rockingham, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his side slipping to a second straight loss.

In other games around the grounds, the Fremantle Roosters produced a strong second-half display to oust the Willagee Bears 38-12, while the North Beach Sea Eagles remain top of the standings after a big 46-16 come-from-behind win over the Joondalup Giants.