NRLWA FTG&P Premiership – Round 11 Recap

By PETER ROWE

 

Giants’ halfback Gus Marshall emerged the hero of the day at Admiral Park as Joondalup saw off a late challenge from the South Perth Lions to keep a firm grip on fourth spot on the ladder after round 11 of the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership on Saturday.

 

Marshall scored two tries and crucially, two penalties that proved eventually to be the difference between the two sides in their 26-22 victory.

 

It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, the Giants were made to fight for the points against a determined Lions side still looking for their first win of the season.

 

Hohepa Taiatini Galvin-Dawson had given the visitors an early lead in windy conditions on the northern suburbs before Marshall’s clever kicking game drew the Giants level.

 

He forced a number errors throughout the game with some high bombs swirling in the gusty conditions that few wanted to take – and when they did, it often proved fatal.

 

It was a dropped ball from the kickoff after the South Perth try that set up hooker River Colman for a big run that saw Payden Porter cross.

 

Fullback Harry Debique pulled South Perth back into the contest after 24 minutes when he dived over from short metres and then kicked the conversion to give the visitors a four-point lead.

 

But it didn’t last long. Six minutes later Marshall, after a line drop out following pressure from the Joondalup attack, danced his way through a sea of players to find the whitewash.

 

He kicked the extras and the Giants began to apply more pressure, held up twice in goal before a penalty in front of the posts with 13 seconds left on the clock saw Marshall give the home side a four-point cushion at the interval.

 

If South Perth were to stay on the battle they had to score first after the break, but it was centre Brad Sparrow who crossed next on the right edge, with the conversion attempt drifting wide.

 

Samisoni Langi opened his account for the Lions on 48 minutes after a Joondalup error to keep the visitors in the game, but Marshall, as alert as ever, dived over from short metres on the hour to restore the margin.


Photo – Karmel Potter-Green

His conversion kicking would prove to be crucial in the win as the Giants pushed the gap out  to 10 points.

 

The Lions though kept probing, looking for gaps in a tiring Giants defence, with halfback Jayden Evans finding a hole on the right to race 35 metres to score. 

 

The kick, from way on the right edge was missed, but the visitors were fired up and went searching for more.

 

Sadly for them, a two-on-one strip in front of the posts was their undoing, as Marshall kicked the penalty to create an eight-point margin, that despite an exciting late charge and score from winger Karra Wiringi – proved to be the difference on the siren.

 

“It wasn’t pretty but we believed today,” halfback Taurean Sheehan said.

 

“We dug deep and worked hard. South Perth pushed us all the way. We knew they would, so it was good to get this game won and build some momentum as we go into the final third of the season.”

 

For South Perth the hunt for their first win of the season goes on, but they will take plenty of positives from this game.

 

“Disappointing but lots of positives to take home,” team manager Paul Brown said.

 

“The last 15 or so minutes were good and we really pushed hard and afterwards we felt should have got something from the game.

 

“But we struggled with a few big kicks, dropped the ball that put us under pressure and were made to pay.”

 

A few kilometres south at Blue Force Park a strong first half from the Fremantle Roosters laid the platform for a 32-14 victory over the North Beach Sea Eagles to claim top spot on the ladder.

 

Winger Alan Cowen opened the scoring for the visitors after three minutes before Beach halfback Darius Rogers levelled, but it was then all one-way traffic as Cooper Sanders and Kaelin Heremaia-Phillips added two more.


Player-coach Delane Edwards, stepped up after Sonny Kerr pulled out in the warmup with a hamstring problem and proved at 37, very capable of causing problems, evading several missed tackles on 26 minutes to find the whitewash.

 

“Yeah, he’s still good for a 50-year-old,”  captain Duane Butler joked.

 

“We’re in a good place, It’s starting to come together, consistency is there and we need to build now for finals.”

 

Fullback Paora Kemp added another seven minutes later and the Roosters went to the sheds with a comfortable 24-6 lead.

 

The Sea Eagles stepped up their game after the break and Ethan Buckley edged them back into the contest after a period of possession, but that hope was extinguished 10 minutes later when Edwards crossed for his second of the day.

 

Juayne Pomare kept the home side in the hunt with a score on 69 minutes in the right corner after a great kick and chase from Rogers but the Roosters eventually killed off the challenge three minutes from time when Cowen crossed for his second of the day, picking off a great Kemp kick to the corner after a North Beach error had given back possession minutes earlier.

 

“Repetition in training is starting to pay off and our attack is looking good,” Butler said, “And our defence was solid, holding them to 14 points.

 

“We had to make some late changes when Sonny Kerr pulled out minutes before kickoff and Jayden Solomon stepped up in the halves and Bjorn (Crotty)  returned after injury, so that was good to see.”

 

North Beach coach Phil Douche again said game management was the issue. 

 

“We gave the ball away too much and we struggled to get out of our own half in windy conditions.

 

“They (Fremantle) handled it better and their fifth tackle options killed us. We had a few out but that’s no excuse, we need to be a lot better to keep up with both Freo and  Rocky (Rockingham) as we head towards the finals.”