Robbie Smith scored four tries as the Rockingham Sharks spoilt the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs’ WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership home debut – running out 44-14 winners at Charlottes Pavilion on Saturday.
Entering the contest without a win during their opening two games of the season, Rockingham were clinical as they ran in eight team tries – including four to five-eight Smith.
“We brought a positive attitude to the game,” Smith said.
“I’m pretty proud of myself with four tries.”
Just a week after succumbing to a 56-6 loss to the Fremantle Roosters, the Sharks showed what they are capable of as they collected their first win of the new season.
“After last week’s bad performance against Freo we came back and showed our skills,” Smith said.
“I’m proud of the boys.”
Keen to right the wrongs from their implosion against the Roosters, the Sharks jumped out of the blocks – forcing the Rabbitohs into some desperate goal-line defence in the opening quarter of an hour.
Ellenbrook’s resilience was broken just before the twenty-minute mark, however, as Smith produced a bit of individual magic – chipping the ball over the Rabbitohs defence before connecting with hooker Andrew Jeffery to score the game’s first try.
The try gave Smith the confidence he needed, with the former Willagee Bears playmaker grabbing his second just three minutes later as he again gathered another chipped kick – this time from halves partner Jack Wray to give the visitors a commanding 12-0 lead.
To make things worse for Ellenbrook, player/coach Jarek Goebel limped off with a suspected knee injury as Michael Heather crossed to further extend Rockingham’s lead.
In desperate need of a lift, Rabbitohs vice-captain Bryce Wilson backed up his hat-trick from last week with a try on the stroke of half-time as the hosts went into the sheds with some momentum.
Despite an early sin-binning to English fullback Nathan Hill, it would be Rockingham who would strike first after the break as centre Luke Hughes crashed over under the sticks.
A sin-binning to Wilson saw both sides reduced to 12 men as Smith split through a gap in the Rabbitohs defence to touch down for his hat-trick with half an hour still to play.
Wananga Kingi crossed shortly after to keep Ellenbrook in with a shout, but tries to Logan Barclay, Hill and Smith’s fourth made sure of the result as Rockingham returned to winning ways.
Kade Pearce set up Carlos Waretini for a late consolation try for the Rabbitohs, but it was too little, too late as the Bunnies slipped to their maiden Premiership loss.
In other results around the grounds, the North Beach Sea Eagles maintained their perfect start to the season with a 48-16 win over the South Perth Lions while the Fremantle Roosters downed the Willagee Bears 84-10.
Ellenbrook Rabbitohs 14 (Tries – Wilson, Kingi, Waretini. Goals – Palmer 1/3)
Rockingham Sharks 44 (Tries – Smith (4), Heather, Hughes, Barclay, Hill. Goals – Wray 6/8)
Precinct Player of the Match: Robbie Smith (Rockingham Sharks)
Rabbitohs: 1. Wananga Kingi, 2. Chazz Palmer, 3. Kade Pearce, 4. Carlos Waretini, 5. Nga Joseph, 6. Bruce Anderson, 7. Jarek Goebel, 8. Fernando Ekeroma, 9. Bryce Wilson, 10. Mannasseh Gudgeon, 11. Chase Watson, 12. Charlie Adams, 13. River Colman, 14. Shaan Evans, 15. Philip Tunupopo, 16. Koen White, 18. Willz Tuheke-Wade
Coach – Jarek Goebel
Sharks: 1. Nathan Hill, 2. Josh Neal, 3. Logan Barclay, 4. Luke Hughes, 5. Michael Heather, 6. Robbie Smith, 7. Jack Wray, 8. Damien Worth, 9. Andrew Jeffery, 10. Julian Wilson-Wyllie, 11. Ricky Hayes, 12. Benjamin Bolth, 13. Reece Potter, 14. Kieren Crowe, 15. Marcus Ngaro, 16. Richie Hicks, 17. Charles Tanikoqi
Coach – Dave Tito