The North Beach Sea Eagles are WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership minor premiers for the second-straight year after defeating the Rockingham Sharks 38-28 during Women In League Round at Blueforce Park on Saturday.
Dustin Hume and Trent Trotter both bagged doubles, while fullback Kahan Joyce-Vaughan won Man of the Match honours as the Sea Eagles capitalised on the Fremantle Roosters’ 36-30 slip up against the South Perth Lions to secure the minor premiership during the penultimate round of the season.
“The Grand Final is the main thing – if we can pick up these little accolades along the way, great, but the main focus is on the Grand Final,” North Beach coach John Hough said.
“Rockingham played really well today – we had to dig in hard.
“I’m really proud they got the victory.”
With both sides wearing custom purple jerseys to support the annual Women In League Round, it was the host Sea Eagles who burst out of the blocks, scoring four tries inside the opening twenty minutes to seize a stranglehold on the contest.
Having blown a 14-0 lead when the sides last met in Round 12, North Beach would have been wary of lightning striking twice as Rockingham got on the board as Benton Leme-Payko set up Logan Barclay who dotted down in the corner.
Sensing blood in the water, the Sharks went back-to-back as fullback Nathan Hill kept the ball alive on the final tackle before showing great vision to find an unmarked Daniel Goodwin with a cross-field kick to bring the visitors within eight points.
Needing a lift, the Sea Eagles found it through leading try-scorer Jeremy Wallace who chinked his way through a gap in the Sharks defence before teeing up halves partner Cairo Takarangi for a crucial score just before the break.
Knowing a win would most likely seal them the minor premiership with Fremantle losing at home to South Perth, an energised North Beach extended their lead to 28-10 just three minutes after the restart as Wallace again turned provider to send Joyce-Vaughan over.
With the tempo of the game increasing, the sides then traded scores as Rockingham halfback Sean Scott led from the front with a try after some strong play from Hill before North Beach captain Trotter scored out of dummy half.
Trailing 34-16 and with their own finals hopes still very much in the balance, the Sharks knew it was sink or swim as they went on the attack.
A sin-binning to North Beach forward Dave McCullogh meant the hosts had to see out the remainder of the game with 12 men as Rockingham scored three unanswered tries to set up a grandstand finish.
Down by just six points, Sharks centre Barclay looked destined to tie the score up with a try in the corner but was denied by a desperate try-saving tackle from Wallace three minutes from time.
With the siren close to sounding, North Beach made sure of the result and the minor premiership as Josh Benjamin’s cross-field kick found centre Kristian Williams in the corner.
With the loss, the Sharks dropped out of the top four on points differential as the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs defeated the Joondalup Giants 46-18.
Rockingham face Ellenbrook in the final round of the 2019 WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership next weekend in a ‘winner takes all contest’ for the last finals spot.
North Beach Sea Eagles 38 (Tries – Hume (2), Trotter (2), De Vorms, Takarangi, Joyce-Vaughan, Williams. Goals – Takarangi 3/8
Rockingham Sharks 28 (Tries – Barclay (2), Goodwin, Scott, Heeley, Heather. Goals – Scott 2/6)
Chalk ‘N Cheese Player of the Match: Kahan Joyce-Vaughan (North Beach Sea Eagles)
North Beach Sea Eagles: 1. Kahan Joyce-Vaughan, 2. Dustin Hume, 3. Jayden De Vorms, 4. Kani Solomon, 5. Tye Saus, 6. Cairo Takarangi, 7. Jeremy Wallace, 8. Dave McCullogh, 9. Trent Trotter, 10. Wiremu Paki, 11. Josh Benjamin, 12. Tayla McGregor, 13. Adam Roy, 14. Bow Stein, 15. Eoghan Lofts, 16. Kristian Williams, 17. Ben Dickson
Coach – John Hough
Rockingham Sharks: 1. Nathan Hill, 2. Michael Heather, 3. Logan Barclay, 4. Daniel Goodwin, 5. Alestair Parmenter, 6. Beme Leme-Pyako, 7. Sean Scott, 8. Reece Potter, 9. Marcus Ngaro, 10. Damien Worth, 11. Matthew Rangiuia, 12. Luke Hughes, 13. Kieren Crowe, 14. Karl Trego, 15. Ryan Heeley, 16. Richie Hicks, 17. Charles Tanikoqi
Coaches – Dave Tito & Peter Worth