The North Beach Sea Eagles put one hand on the minor premiership after recording a 44-0 shutout win over the Rockingham Sharks during Round 17 of the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles have now blanked the Sharks twice this season after inflicting a 48-0 loss on their rivals during Round 12.
“We just stuck to what we spoke about before the game, and that’s building momentum and starting the game well, which we did,” North Beach coach John Hough said.
“Our defence was outstanding, it was really pleasing to keep them to zero.”
Seeking their 13th win of the season, the host Sea Eagles dominated all the early ball.
The Sharks defence held firm during the opening 10 minutes, however, with Tom Halliday and Kieran Crowe working well on the edges.
North Beach own the league’s second-best attack and seemed only a matter of time before they hit the front.
Rockingham’s resistance was broken after 12 minutes as Kani Solomon dotted down for his league-high 17th try of the year after some clever build-up play from Trent Trotter and Josh Toole.
Trotter and Toole caused constant threats to the Rockingham defence as the ladder-leaders started to take control.
Their work left space for North Beach’s forwards to work, as Gershom Adams doubled his side’s advantage with a bull-dosing run just four minutes later.
Toole, playing in his first game since Round 14, then grabbed the Sea Eagles’ third of the afternoon just past the half-hour mark to give his side a 16-0 lead.
With the Sharks in desperate need of a lift, fullback Logan Barclay tried his best to rally the troops on the stroke of half-time but could only throw his back of the hand pass into the arms of Jayden De Vorms who streaked away to extend North Beach’s advantage.
The try was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the Sea Eagles took just three minutes to trouble the scorers after the break – winger Zach Fitzgerald showing his speed to score.
Toole then notched his second before Rockingham captain Andrew Jeffery was sin-binned for a professional foul with just 20 minutes to play.
With the extra man, North Beach took immediate advantage – Ben Dickson crossing before Brad Sharpham backed up his six-try effort from last week with another four-pointer to blow the game out.
Adam Roy rounded out the win with a try on his 100th game for the club as the Sea Eagles continue their march towards the finals.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven games to slip out of the top four after the Joondalup Giants defeated the Willagee Bears 58-6.
In the league’s other game, the South Perth Lions held off a fast-finishing Fremantle Roosters to record a thrilling 30-26 win.