NRLWA FTG&P Premiership – Round 01 Recap

By PETER ROWE 

 

You never win premierships in April but coach Phil Douche was delighted with the performance of his new look North Beach Sea Eagles as they opened the 2024 NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership with a solid 34-18 defeat of the Fremantle Roosters on Saturday.

 

“Lot of positives –  and I’m happy the way our new boys went,” was Douche’s reaction after the game.

 

“There’s a few small things we’re not doing right which we can fix, but overall it was a good day.”

 

New standoff Corey Craig got the Sea Eagles off to a flying start after five minutes, a penalty setting up the opportunity to spot a gap in the Roosters defensive line, to dummy and dive across for the first try of the new season.

 

The Kiwi import was one of a number of highlights in a disciplined Sea Eagles performance, as was fellow half Darius Rogers, at 17, looking well beyond his years.

 

Mackenzie Martin grabbed a second after 15 minutes and Justin Buckley added the points as North Beach dominated.

 

With possession, the home side scored again from the kickoff on last tackle, Bailey Millar given too much space to find open ground and send a pass to Rogers to race over.

The Roosters lost fullback Tuakana Rangihaeata minutes later after a clash with opposite fullback Millar returning a kick and the day got worse for the visitors on the half hour when a Delane Edwards pass close to the North Beach try line was intercepted by winger Stirling MacDonald, who sprinted 95 metres to take the home side 20 points up.

 

Alan Cowen gave the Roosters some hope before the break but the Sea Eagles came out firing in the second half with lock Bowman Stein driving forward for the ever dangerous Millar to capitalise on a dropped ball in goal to add another four points.

 

Edwards jumped between half and fullback to his favoured lock role as he tried to ignite a Fremantle fightback and despite some solid defence from the Sea Eagles, Simon Tabakanaca completed a runaround play to score in the corner.

 

With the conversion good, the Roosters saw hope but six minutes later that was extinguished when McDonald was put clear by Roydon Gillett to race down the right flank to score.

 

Buckley’s conversion wrapped up the scoring for the home side but Fremantle were not done with Edwards jinking his way across five minutes from time.

 

A solid day for Beach but for Fremantle, a disappointment. 

 

“We were missing a few boys but no excuses, we just didn’t turn up,” captain Duane Butler said.

 

“Too many errors, dropping the ball, penalties on fourth or fifth tackle.

 

“We’ll ramp up in training – not with fitness, more mental things, go back to our systems and we’ll get there.”

 

At Admiral Park, a penalty in front of the posts with 30 seconds left on the clock earned Joondalup Giants a share of the points against South Perth Lions.

 

Gus Marshall cooly slotted the penalty to end what was a typical season opening game with errors and penalties from both sides.

 

Keiren Paish and Jared Smith gave the visitors an early 10-0 lead before the Giants stormed back to lead 18-10 at the break with tries from Jeronia Rae, Taurean Sheehan and Rangwananga Kingi.

 

“We knew they would come back at us and they did,” Lions team manager Paul Brown said. 

 

“We had decent possession early but dropped balls and knock-ons gave it back to them.”

 

Raea scored again after South Perth had jumped back into the lead thanks to tries from Timmy Noble, Dela Kanawale and Keiren Liss before the offside penalty kick levelled it all up.

 

“It was a seesaw game, scrappy at times, which you would expect for round one, but in the end I think we were pleased with a point,” Brown added.

 

“Jared (Smith), Tere (Cameron-Ramea) and Dela (Kanawale) on his debut, were our standouts.

 

“It was disappointing to concede a penalty with 30 seconds left and right in front of the posts, but that’s footy.”

 

Giants skipper Sheehan admitted fatigue on a hot day didn’t help but was happy they stayed in the contest.

 

“Our first half was better than our second and South Perth are structurally sound so it was good to hang in there for 80 minutes and take the point at the end.

 

“We debuted a few youngsters and I was pleased to see Jack Bullard, for a young kid, do so well in the middles, which is never easy on debut. And Tiger Williams jumped on to our bench late and performed well.”

 

The Lions host North Beach in round two on Saturday with Joondalup travelling south to face the Rockingham Sharks. Fremantle have the bye.