The Fremantle Roosters maintained their unbeaten start to the Smarter Than Smoking Premiership with a 28-22 win over the North Beach Sea Eagles at Ken Allen Field on Saturday.
The Roosters looked home and dry with an 18 point buffer heading into the final 10 minutes, but two late Sea Eagles tries made it a grandstand finish.
Fremantle now move to 4-0 on the season, while North Beach felt the absence of star five-eight Josh Toole to slip to 2-2.
“It was good we stuck in there and got the win in the end,” Roosters Manager Zac Speir said.
In a game which pitted first against second, it was North Beach who got on the board first – winger Brad Sharpman putting his side in good field position before some quick ball movement sent fellow winger Chazz Palmer through to touch down in the corner.
The Roosters came into this clash with a perfect 3-0 record and soon showed why – Cameron Rapuera getting on the end of a slick set-play.
Fresh from his ANZAC Challenge heroics, teenage sensation Rangi Teirney added the extras to give Fremantle a 6-4 lead.
The hosts soon extended their advantage after Jordan Stringer’s dart from dummy half found a gap in the Sea Eagles defence.
The Sea Eagles clearly drew inspiration from the play, as Zak Bishop pounced for his side’s second try of the game with a very similar play from dummy half moments later.
Ben Taylor knocked over the conversion to lock the game at 10-10 just before the break.
The momentum was now with the Sea Eagles, as the visitors threatened to take a lead into the sheds – Bishop cut down just short of the try line after a blistering run.
The Roosters jumped out of the blocks in the second half – enforcer Brad Gibson taking the ball to the line before finding Bjorn Crotty who charged upfield.
From the resulting play, Tom Holmes forced his way over under the sticks to regain Fremantle’s lead.
Teirney added the extras to make it 16-10.
The try sparked a period of dominance for the Roosters as they look destined to run away with it – Aaron Hodges getting on the end of captain Simon Tabakanaca’s clever kick into the in-goal area, before Teirney converted a penalty goal to make it a three-possession game with just 15 minutes to play.
The Roosters looked to have secured the points when Tarin Katu bulldozed over a tiring Sea Eagles defence for his fourth try of the campaign before Kani Solomon scored two late tries to send a few nerves through the Fremantle camp.
The defending Premiers held firm, however, to clinch a gutsy 28-22 win to remain top of the ladder.
Fremantle now turns their focus towards a clash with the Joondalup Giants, while North Beach travel to take on the South Perth Lions.
In other results around the grounds, Rockingham Sharks made it two wins on the bounce with a comfortable 40-16 win at Joondalup, while Willagee Bears remain winless after a 50-16 loss to South Perth.