Alan Cowen’s try two minutes from time handed the Fremantle Roosters a dramatic 22-20 come-from-behind win over the South Perth Lions in Round Two of the Smarter Than Smoking Premiership on a sunny Saturday afternoon at George Burnett Field.
The last-gasp try maintains the Roosters’ unbeaten start to the season and moves them to second in the standings after two rounds.
“The boys dug deep and finally got in front,” Roosters captain Jason Nicholls said.
The victory was extra special for Nicholls, who celebrated his 30th birthday.
“It was an awesome game and a good birthday present,” the fullback said.
With both teams recording wins in Round One, the stage was set for an epic battle.
It was the Lions who would draw first blood in the fifth minute – debutant Kade McDonald pouncing on a dropped ball from Roosters forward Shandyn Moody to sprint 90 metres untouched.
The Lions dominated possession in their home opener and almost grabbed their second of the game as McDonald lost his marker before knocking the ball on when he looked destined to score.
Their early pressure would pay off moments later as Isaac Thomas darted out of dummy half for his second try of the season. Harry Debique slotted the extra points as the hosts took a 10-0 lead after 25 minutes.
Fremantle, keen to build on their gutsy win over Rockingham last week hit back straight away as fullback Nicholls found a gap in the South Perth defence before finding half back Delane Edwards to get his side back in the contest.
South Perth weren’t to be outdone, however, and scored their third try just before half-time – the dangerous McDonald diving over in the left corner after some smart build-up play with fellow West Coast Pirates SG Ball Cup teammate Deijaan Healey-Marsh.
The conversion was missed as the Lions took a 14-4 lead into the sheds.
After the break, the Roosters came out with a fire in their belly to blitz the Lions with three tries in the first fifteen minutes.
Substitute Te Puna Sellers touched down in the corner before Nicholls grabbed himself a birthday try to lock the scores up at 14-14 with half-an-hour to play.
Lions winger Tyler Thomas thought he had reclaimed his side’s lead, only for his try to be disallowed for foul-play, before Roosters centre Taiapa Graham made him pay with a barraging run to put his side ahead 18-14.
With both sides tiring from fatigue, errors started to creep into the contest – both sides guilty of loose carries and ball handling.
A bit of individual brilliance from veteran Daniel Green opened the game up and looked to have given the Lions victory after he found the try line with 17 minutes to play.
It wasn’t to be for the Lions, however, as Cowen broke the home side’s hearts with a last-gasp winner in the corner.
In other results, Joondalup Giants put on a clinical display to rout the Willagee Bears 32-0 for their first win of the season, while the North Beach Sea Eagles moved to 2-0 after an impressive 18-12 win against last year’s Minor Premiers the Rockingham Sharks.