NRLWA FTG&P Premiership – Round 04 Recap

By PETER ROWE

 

Rockingham Sharks overcame the loss of halfback John McLaughin with a broken arm after just three minutes to dominate Saturday’s NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership round four clash with North Beach Sea Eagles at Blueforce Park, ending the afternoon as the only unbeaten side in the competition with a solid 32-16 win.

 

McLaughlin was involved in the Sharks opening try, from fellow half Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards, on their second set of the game, scoring in the left corner, but emerged from a melee of players injured after an awkward fall and is likely to miss a fair chunk of the season.

 

“ He (McLaughlin) landed badly and right now I’m not too sure how long he will be out, but it’s a fracture,” player-coach Murphy confirmed.

 

“It’s a blow but Kelvin (Coleman) stepped in and did a great job alongside Keelyn, that was really pleasing to see.”

Photo – Libby McMillan
 

Undeterred, the Sharks were up for the battle and quickly jumped to a 12-0 lead when Murphy found space to go over after another attack at speed found the Sea Eagles defence wanting.

 

“We weren’t up for it,” coach Phil Douche admitted. “I sensed it in the warm-up. There was no intensity I was looking for and we paid the price.”

 

Bailey Millar, partnering young Darius Rogers in the halves, grabbed a four-pointer after 20 minutes for the home side, but it was little consolation as the Sharks machine rumbled on, completing sets and causing havoc in the North Beach defence.

 

When fullback Korey Craig dropped a high Tuuta-Edwards bomb ten metres out from his own try line eight minutes later, back rower Brandon White scooped up the ball to cross for his first of three tries for the day.

 

Tuuta-Edwards, who stepped up to control the game in the absence of halves partner McLaughin, kicked the points and the Sharks were in control.

 

Centre Logan Barclay added another a minute before halftime and within three minutes of the restart White grabbed his second of the afternoon, barging through a big defensive hole ten metres out to increase the lead and he made it a hat-trick 15 minutes later before North Beach winger Jesse Rafferty squeezed over in the corner and Bowman Stein added a consolation effort nine minutes from time to close the gap.

Photo – Carmel Potter-Green 

 

Murphy was also full of praise for White and Barclay.

 

“Brandon was one of our top three trainers during pre-season and he’s now reaping the rewards,” Murphy said. 

 

“If you work hard, you get rewards and the same for Logan, he’s been outstanding.”

 

Sea Eagles coach Douche saw little consolation in the late rally.

 

“No consolation at all, we scored some points, but our execution was way off, we were poor all day. We got what we deserved,” he admitted.

 

“The balance wasn’t right, we weren’t tight enough in the middle and there was a lack of energy across the whole team.

 

“Fair play to Rockingham, they had high energy, their defence was great and they wanted it more.”

 

The Sharks, who also lost hooker Andrew Jeffrey with a bicep injury that could see him out for a long period, roll on to round five next week and an other big test against Fremantle.

 

“I’m pleased that we’re a team on the up, we had a big pre-season and we focused on defence. The players are buying into what we want to achieve,” Murphy added.

 

“We’re moving in the right direction and building combinations, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

 

After a slow start to the season Fremantle are ominously moving into top gear and despite an early score from South Perth, stepped up to beat the Lions 44-22 at Treeby Oval.

 

Lock Joey Halpin opened the scoring for the visitors before centre Joey Pouhila and winger Nick Riggs grabbed two tries apiece to set the home side on their way.

 

“We were patchy early on but recovered well,” captain Duane Butler said.

 

“A lot of passes misfiring and our timing wasn’t perfect, but it’s beginning to come together.

 

The Roosters led at the break and then powered on in the second half with tries from Mitch Kerr, Simon Tabakanaca, Paora Kemp (2), winger Tuakana Rangihaeata and Mitch Kerr.

 

“Fair play to South Perth, they are a young side and they gave us 80 minutes,” Butler said.

 

“We looked good in parts but we still haven’t fully clicked. Much improved but still lots of work to be done.

 

“Jules (Wilson-Wyllie) led the forwards – he’s a workhorse  – and Lukey (Luke-David Wells-Talamaivao) was solid in the halves.”

 

South Perth team manager Paul Brown admitted his young side made too many errors to win the game, but praised their effort.

 

“Too many turnovers, dropped balls that put pressure back on ourselves, that hurt,” he said.

 

“Fremantle were the better side, bigger in the middles, they controlled the ruck and their line speed was quick.”

 

Youngster Luke McDermott, half Hohepa-Tamati Taiatini Galvin-Dawson and centre Dela Kanawale were their other scorers, with Halpin and forward Blair Young their outstanding players.

 

The influential Harry DeBique had to leave the field early with a nasty cut above the eye, but returned bandaged up to kick three from four.

 

“The bye week off will give us time to get players back and recover,” Brown added.

 

“There’s a lot of young talent in this side we need to nurture.”

Photo – Libby McMillan