Last year’s runners up, the North Beach Sea Eagles kicked off their 2019 WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership preseason with a 40-26 win over local rivals the Joondalup Giants at Charles Riley Reserve on Saturday.
With both teams taking part in their first hit-out ahead of the home-and-away season, the Sea Eagles spread their wings – outscoring the Giants seven tries to five to claim victory, leaving second-year coach John Hough satisfied.
“It was good to get into the preseason and dust the boots off,” Hough said.
“I wasn’t too bothered about the score – the guys made some good work and made some bad errors.”
“Preseason games are for players to stake their claim for the first game against Freo.”
In a North of the River derby, the Sea Eagles wasted no time getting on the board – prop forward Dave McCulloch crashing over after some solid build-up play from five-eight Charlie Pulsfold just four minutes in.
In his return to WA rugby league, former Kalamunda Bulldog Josh Benjamin gave North Beach a 10-0 after dotting down in the corner just before the quarter-hour mark.
“I’m really looking forward for Josh this season and he’s excited himself,” Hough said.
Led by first-year coach Gus Marshall, Joondalup hit the board after 21 minutes – winger Dayton Tukurua scoring in the corner before five-eight Davey Martin tied the game up at 10-10 after touching down under the sticks.
The Sea Eagles reclaimed their lead just before the break, however, as new captain Trent Trotter spotted a gap out of dummy to give his side a 16-10 advantage heading into the sheds.
North Beach took their momentum into the second term – scoring three tries within the opening twenty minutes to all but kill off any hopes Joondalup had.
McCulloch and reserve hooker Bowman Stein both grabbed doubles, with Stein scoring a spectacular solo try in the closing stages as the Sea Eagles got their preseason off to a winning start.
“He [Stein] played really well,’” Hough said. He scored a great try at the end, came on and did really well.”
To their credit, the Giants hung in there until the final whistle – scoring three tries in the final 15 minutes, highlighted by Caleb Reedy’s four-pointer in the corner just before the siren.
In other results around the grounds, the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs got their maiden taste of First Grade action, defeating the Rockingham Sharks 24-18 at Rockingham Mazda Arena.