Perth Juniors 2021 – Finals – Week One Review

Girls League Tag
So the day started with a bang with a couple of great GLT games to kick off proceedings. In the major semi final, the Giants started extremely fast, with a couple of tries to Mya Walker to shake the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs awake. But then the tide turned. All the momentum seems in the Bunnies hands and they changed the complexion of the game. The Giants couldn’t stop the up tempo Ellenbrook game, and they out enthused the Joondalup side out of the game. Tries to strike speedster Leona Yusia, Isabella Hughes and Ghaeddia Rihare meant they didn’t need to kick any goals, and their defence held as they booked a ticket to the grand final with a 12-10 victory.
In the elimination final, it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the young woman, as Marnie McGuire spearheaded the South Perth Lions into a preliminary final with a 16-10 victory over a valiant Rockingham Sharks side. McGuire used her trademark speed and footwork, to blow the game open with 3 breakaway tries to put South Perth on her back and give them an amazing lead. But the Sharks wouldn’t let it go that easily, clawing their way back with two great tries of their own to Alyssa Hall and Britney Dean, and they had all the momentum. Unfortunately time was their enemy and they just didn’t get the final thrust they need to tie the game up. Sets up an amazing preliminary between the Giants and the Lions.

U13s Boys
In the major semi final between the hometown Rockingham Sharks and the dangerous Kalamunda Bulldogs. And it turned into a real battle between the fullbacks, with Jacob Scoon and Ben Cottam going back and forth in a titanic contest. With the game in the balance, and both forward packs evenly matched it took a bit of special play from young Ricco Lilii and Carter Nikora to bust the game wide open. And when the Bulldogs finally kicked out to a lead, they did not give it up. Legend Mansell-Morisson tried hard but the Sharks will lament being a bit wasteful as they didn’t hold the ball that well, and this ultimately meant they went down 20-12. But they will get another chance to make it to the big dance for another shot at the Bulldogs.
They will have to get through the red hot form of the Alkimos Tigers, who scraped and fought their way into the finals, and then duly accounted for the South Perth Lions in the elimination final 22-10. The Lions started on fire, with two quick fire tries to Thomas McGuire and Kingston Tioriori. Their forward pack was rumbling and dominating possession and it looked like they were going to send the Tigers on the long car ride home empty handed. But the Tigers soon woke up and asserted themselves in the game. Slowing wearing down the Lions with sustained pressure. Set after set, the Lions had to bring the ball off their own line and the pressure finally told. With strong performances from Xavier Cavanna, Chayse Berryman and Kaeden McQuoid the Tigers were elated when the final whistle blew and sent to a mouth watering matchup with the minor premiers.

U13s Girls
In the preliminary game the Joondalup Giants came in heavy favourites against the Rockingham Sharks, and I will start by saying this. The Rockingham Sharks at no stage threw in the towel and fought hard the whole game. But the Giants were just a little too classy with a 50-18 victory. Don’t be fooled by the scoreline, as at one stage the Giants led 30-18 with a comeback on the cards looking likely. Young Te Whai Aroho Huriwai Brown put the Sharks on her back with an amazing hat trick, and was ably supported by Eternity Davies, but it just wasn’t enough. It was ominous, when the opening kick off from the Sharks duly found Eston Tiakia, who is arguably the best player in the age group. She duly scored in the first play of the game, beating multiple defenders on her way to the first of her six tries. She was supported by devastating centre Palace Koia and young halfback Capri Beazley, who kept the Giants well in their structure. Hopefully the Sharks keep at it, as they have improved immensely all season. The Giants have set up a mouth watering clash with the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs in the grand final in two weeks.

U15s Girls
At the same time as the U13s game, an absolute belter was happening on the adjacent field, with the Lions and Rabbitohs going back and forth in a seesawing affair. The South Perth Lions and Ellenbrook Rabbitohs have been neck and neck all year in their contests and today was no different as they traded the lead a bunch of times. The Lions had some big performances form View McKenzie and Jamie Cameron and they looked like they had done enough for the victory. And the Rabbitohs made some crucial basic errors in their performance and looked like they were going to fall a bit short. Macalice Tule and Raukura Tukiwaho tried their heart out for the Bunnies, toiling away for the whole game. And while the Lions prob thought they were almost home 16-10, the Rabbitohs scored at the death to force the contest into extra time. With the Rabbitohs kicking off, the Lions made a heartbreaking error on their second tackle and gave the Rabbits a shot to win the game on their line. And after defending tooth and nail for five tough tackles, a beautiful cross field kick found its way into Tukiwaho’s arms and she duly dove over to send the Ellenbrook girls ecstatic. Even in defeat the Lions girls were gracious, congratulating the Rabbitoh girls, and the crowd was emphatic in their applause of an amazing nail biting contest.

U14s Boys
The Rockingham Sharks entered the U14s Major Semi Final as huge favorites against the South Perth Lions. And they duly showed their worth. Controlling the contest and dominating possession early, they skipped out to an unassailable 30-0 lead on the back of a huge performance from Majah Peachey and the diminutive Vann Jager. And while the Lions boys fought for some pride in the second half, with Curtis Strickland Manuel-Nathan and Jahkayis Mabbett scoring tries, they left their fightback slightly too late going down 36-10. The Lions just weren’t able to get into the game early and will be hoping for a better defensive performance next week against the Fremantle Roosters.
The Fremantle Roosters who people forget are the defending premiers, reminded everyone that they know how to play finals footy. They were ruthless in their game with a commanding 42-14 victory over a tough, but ultimately outclassed Kalamunda Bulldogs side. Bulldog Jeremiah Grant tried incredibly hard to keep his team within striking distance, with a virtuoso hat trick performance, but the Roosters were in a mood. Finals born players William Blair, Riki Hira and Jesse Inall were in a mood as they led their team to a big victory. They look primed and ready and will want to blow through the Lions next week and get a real crack at the Sharks on Grand Final day.

U15s Boys
In the U15 Boys, the North Beach Sea Eagles came into this contest as slight favorites after having a stellar year. After dropping just the one game all season, a shock loss to be honest, they welcomed back some big names and fancied themselves going to the grand final the short route. But the Rockingham Sharks had other ideas. Led by a ruthless forward pack, and some devastating quick running from Stacie Reweti and Thomas Leeder, they blew the Sea Eagles off the park with a 42-16 victory. While the Sea Eagles fought hard on the back of some honest toilers in Jesse Rafferty and Elijah Gideona-Chase, they were unable to go with the Sharks and will need to fix it up quickly as they go into a preliminary final full of danger.
In the Elimnation final, the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs looked home and hosed. Midway through the second half, they led 16-6 with tries to Wilson Matangi Masters, Aydee Tan and Carlos Kata putting them in the box seat for the victory. But the Lions just wouldn’t go away, and standout Gabriel Salelea led the way. After a long range try , the Lions then went hard on the attack, after a penalty and then an error from the Rabbitohs team. Ellenbrook were desperate and kept turning the Lions away, but they wouldn’t be denied and duly hit the front 18-16 with 5 minutes left on the clock. Then the Bunnies kicked the ball out on the full off the kick off and seemed to be hitting the self-destruct button. They regrouped though, and turned the Lions away and got one last crack at going the full length of the field to win the game, but it was not to be as the siren sounded and the Lions booked a ticket against the minor premiers next week.

U16s Boys
And in the final fixtures of the day, Offence seemed to be the word of the day, as both final games scoreboards beat the clock in some high scoring contest. In the Major Semi Final, the Rockingham Sharks rode the home crowd to a big emotional victory over the South Perth Lions 48-20. With both teams showing the ability to blow this game right open, it was some big performances from power players Taiatini Huriwai-Brown and Tyrell Hirawani-Leef which really stood out. The Lions won’t be too worried with their performance, as they didn’t have issues scoring points, but will need to work hard on their defence as they leaked points at will. Dylan Flood and Casseus-Lemarz Hulbert can hold their heads high for the Lions as they tried to stem the momentum, but some costly errors kept the Lions on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
And the Kalamunda Bulldogs, after blowing an early lead to be a draw at halftime, exploded after the half time break, to end their contest against the vastly improved North Beach Sea Eagles, 40-20. The Sea Eagles looked likely at the end of the first half, with Jake Matthew and Regan Pryce particularly impressive. But the break did the Sea Eagles no favours, with their superior fitness not enough to wrest the game from the Kalamunda Bulldogs obvious power game. Quick stepping Harlem Tata-Paki and power player Jayzion Churms were good for the Bulldogs, and they will need them to be at their best again with the South Perth Lions now in their sights.