The Fremantle Roosters tightened their grip on second spot on the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership ladder with a 28-20 win over the South Perth Lions at George Burnett Park on Saturday.
Manihera Eden, Brad Gibson, Tane Peakman, Blake Hignett and Tamaho Teirney crossed for the visiting Roosters who secured a third-straight win to move four points clear of the Lions in second place.
“We knew South Perth were a fit side, so it was important to go the whole 80 minutes,” Peakman said.
“The boys dug deep so it was good to get one over those guys.”
In a game which pitted second against third on the ladder, it was the host Lions who started the brighter as Ethan Gourgard crossed for the game’s first try after just five minutes.
The Roosters are the competition’s highest points scorers, however, and soon tied the game up as Eden skirted out of dummy half to touch down.
Averaging a staggering 46 points per contest coming into the game, Fremantle wasted no time getting their noses in front as hooker Hignett linked up with a rampaging Gibson who crashed over to give his side a 12-6 lead after 20 minutes.
Despite South Perth second rower Brandon Wright being sin-binned for a professional foul on the half-hour mark, the Lions were able to limit the damage to stay within six points at the break.
South Perth’s resistance would be broken just three minutes after the restart, however, as Fremantle capitalised on Will Smith’s error to score their third try of the game courtesy of Peakman.
Needing to be the next to score, the Lions turned to young five-eight Kade McDonald who delivered – carving his way through the Roosters’ defence to dot down under the sticks on the hour-mark.
With the game firmly in the balance, Bjorn Crotty’s 40/20 swung the momentum of the contest back in Fremantle’s favour before Gibson turned provider to tee up Hignett who touched down.
With a 12-point lead, the Roosters started to play more expansive rugby league and sealed the contest six minutes from time as Delane Edwards linked up with Teirney who burrowed his way over the line.
Gibson’s late sin-binning allowed McDonald to grab a consolation try for South Perth right on the siren, but it was too little, too late as Fremantle held on for a third-straight win to keep up the pressure on the ladder-leading North Beach Sea Eagles.
In other results around the grounds, the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs overcame the Joondalup Giants 54-40 in a try-fest while the Rockingham Sharks produced the surprise of the season, defeating the previously unbeaten North Beach 21-20.
South Perth Lions 20 (Tries – Gourgard, McDonald (2). Goals – Debique 3/3)
Fremantle Roosters 28 (Tries – Eden, Gibson, Peakman, Hignett, Teirney. Goals – Wade-Whalan 4/5)
Chalk ‘N Cheese Player of the Match: Tane Peakman (Fremantle Roosters)
South Perth Lions: 1. Will Smith, 2. Josh Anstis, 3. Michael Guthrie, 4. Connor Hudson, 5. Billy Judge, 6. Kade McDonald, 7. Harry Debique, 8. Daniel Green, 9. Zac Wood, 10. Kiam Fletcher, 11. Ethan Gourgard, 12. Brandon Wright, 13. Jarrad Smith, 14. Caleb Norton, 15. Wessell Van Tonder, 16. Dylan Estreich, 17. Taine Kingi
Coach – Issac Thomas
Roosters: 1. Delane Edwards, 2. Mitch Wade-Whalan, 3. Regy Manu, 4. Manihera Eden, 5. Ryan Foster, 6. Duane Butler, 17. Tamaho Teirney, 8. Brad Gibson, 9. Blake Hignett, 18. Callin Tereu, 11. Ezra Taomia, 12. Tane Peakman, 13. Bjorn Crotty, 7. Jamie Le, 14. Baldy Neho, 15. Takaroha Peneha, 16. Ricky Cathro
Manager – Zac Speir