NRLWA FTG&P Premiership – Round 03 Recap

By PETER ROWE 

 

A missed rushed kick from Gus Marshall cost Joondalup Giants a share of the points at Admiral Park on Saturday as the Fremantle Roosters returned to action after a week off to record a 26-24 victory in round three of the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership.

 

Payden Porter’s try with a minute left had got the Giants to within two points of their opponents, but Marshall, who led his side superbly all game, shanked the kick wide.

 

“I’ve got to give credit to Gus, his kicking game was superb and he put a lot of pressure on our defence,” Roosters skipper Duane Butler said.

 

“We tried to build a points gap and run away with the game, but they (Joondalup) wouldn’t let us. They stuck in there and made a great game of it.”

 

Centre Taiapa Graham opened the scoring for Fremantle before centre Dylan Davis and fullback Travis Haney gave the Giants an early lead.

 

Butler grabbed the first of a double before the halftime break to keep the scores close and scored again after the interval to put the Roosters back in control.

 

Bjorn Crotty was a welcome returnee for the Roosters off the bench and his try looked to have locked in the result for the visitors, before Porters’ late effort.

 

“I couldn’t fault our boys for effort ,”  Giants playmaker Taurean Sheehan said. 

 

It was a see-saw game, we led at the half and then they came back, but we stayed the course.

 

“We had three 18-year-olds out there – Jack (Bullard) and Tiger (Williams) were outstanding.”

 

Butler was happy with the points but knows there is still lots of work ahead if the Roosters are to make finals in August.

 

“When we stuck to our structure we played well with possession, but Joondalup never let us get comfortable and they forced errors on us,” he said.

 

“Delane (player-coach Edwards)  kept us in the game. He’s like a fine wine – he’s getting better with age.”

 

At 37, Edwards can often read the game two or three plays ahead and it’s his experience that enabled Fremantle to stay in the game when Joondalup looked dangerous.

 

“I call him ‘grumpy’ because he’s always shouting at us on the field – but he’s a good mate and his knowledge of the game is immense,” Butler admitted.

 

At South Perth there was plenty of shouting in the second half as the Lions staged a late comeback against the Rockingham Sharks, outscoring their opponents by three tries to one in the second half before eventually losing 34-24.

 

Decimated by injury, the Lions fielded a very young team with seven players aged under 19 in a game they were desperate to win.

 

But a solid first half performance from the Sharks, with tries from back rower Zac McEntyre, captain Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards, who also kicked five from six conversions, prop Marcelle Loader and a double from second rower Brandon White set up the platform for the win.

 

McEntyre is fast developing into an influential asset for the Sharks and White, with fours tries to his credit already this season, is benefitting from a solid preseason.

 

“Brandon’s on fire at the moment,” player-coach Tom Murphy said. “We had a solid first half with 77% completion, but let ourselves down in the second half, losing possession too easily.

 

“Fair play to South Perth, they didn’t go away and and they have a good set of young kids who will stand them in good stead going forward.”

 

Lions team manager Paul Brown was pleased with the way his side stayed in the game. ‘We hung in there in the second half,” he said.

 

“Harry (DeBique) got us back into the match and our other half, debutant Jayden Evans put in a solid performance.

 

“We had so many kids out there, and they will only get better for this. They stuck together and despite the scoreline there were a lot of positives to take from the game.”

 

The Sharks opened the second half scoring when player-coach Tom Murphy charged over, but then allowed the home side to get back into game as the dangerous Evans and DeBique found holes in the visitor’s defensive line to exploit and score.

 

When Dela Kanawala raced clear down the right edge a try looked on the cards, but fullback Daniel Goodwin won the sprint race to take the centre into touch and minutes later a DeBiqie kick from the back of the scrum set Lions fullback Jordan Tuamoana free only for half John McLaughlin to deny the youngster a try with a chase and tackle five metres from the try line.

 

But the Lions kept up the pressure after several Sharks errors and with six minutes remaining young centre Hohepa-Tamah Taiatini Galvin-Dawson grabbed a debut try to close the gap to ten points.

 

Home supporters wanted more in what would have been an amazing comeback, but the Sharks held firm to make it two wins from two.

 

“A win’s a win and it’s nice to be two from two, but there’s a lot of work still to be done,” Murphy admitted.

 

“We need to work on our combinations and be ready for North Beach in two weeks time.”

 

The Premiership takes a break next week for the annual Anzac Challenge between Perth Aussies and Perth Kiwis before resuming on May 4 when the Sharks visit North Beach and Fremantle host South Perth.