North Beach clinch minor premiership

North Beach Sea Eagles are the 2018 WA Smarter Than Smoking minor premiers. Credit: North Beach Sea Eagles

For the second time in three years, the North Beach Sea Eagles are WA Smarter Than Smoking minor premiers after their 30-30 draw with the Fremantle Roosters during the final game of the 2018 home and away regular season.

With the result, the Sea Eagles will now host the Roosters during this weekend’s Major Semi-Final, with the winner going straight through to the final and the loser facing a Preliminary Final the following week.

Needing at least a draw to secure a home semi, North Beach found themselves down 20-10 at half-time before clawing their way back into the contest with a strong second-half fightback.

“We played a little bit dumb in the first half and needed to change things in a few areas and we did,” Sea Eagles coach John Hough said.

After missing the finals last year, North Beach brought in Hough to take the reins for 2018, and the Englishman didn’t disappoint – leading his side to a 14-4-1 record.

Despite losing two of their first four games, the Sea Eagles soon hit their straps, winning their next five contests to set themselves up for a strong season.

Centre Kani Solomon led the way with 17 tries (second most in the league), while Ben Taylor scored 134 points.

It was their ability to share around the points which proved the key to their success, however, with Cairo Takarangi chipping in with 70 points and Brad Sharpham and Trent Trotter both scoring 11 tries.

“We’re fortunate to have quality players all over the park,” Hough said.

“The guys are all playing particularly well.”

2018 has been one of the tightest regular seasons on record, with the minor premiership going down to the final day of the season.

Ultimately, it was North Beach who were successful, and on behalf of the WA Rugby League community, NRL WA would like to congratulate the Sea Eagles on their First Grade minor premiership.

Coach Hough knows there’s more work still to do, however.

“We understand that the winners of the competition are the winners of the grand final and not the winners of the minor premiership,” he said.

North Beach will be aiming for a clean sweep, with their Reserve Grade, Third Grade, U18’s, Women’s League Tag teams also making the finals this year.