The South Perth Lions recorded their fourth WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership win in a row, defeating the Joondalup Giants 22-10 in Harry Debique’s 100th game for the club on Saturday.
Scott Jones grabbed a double, while Ethan Gourgard and Tyler Thomas also crossed to all but secure the Lions a finals berth for 2018.
South Perth occupy third spot on the ladder – six points ahead of Joondalup with three rounds to play.
“We’ve been building some good momentum – a couple of bodies back has been handy,” Lions coach Hayden Fisher said.
After suffering a 62-12 trouncing at the hands of the Fremantle Roosters last weekend, it was the Giants who jumped out of the blocks early and hit the front after just 11 minutes when Craig Richardson bundled over from dummy half following a 40/20 from five-eight Davey Martin.
The try was the Englishman’s seventh of the season as the visitors raced out to a 6-0 lead.
South Perth are arguably the form team in the competition and hit back just before the half-hour mark as Gourgard got on the end of Debique’s perfectly weighted kick into the in-goal area.
The try sparked a strong end to the half for the Lions with Thomas and Jones touching down to give the hosts a 16-6 lead heading into the sheds.
Like they did in the first half, the Giants came out with a point to prove in the second term as they started to dominate possession.
The fifth-placed Giants got their just reward 14 minutes in as Bryce McRobert’s flashy pass found Troy Nicho who scored a well-deserved try.
Martin couldn’t add the extras as it remained a six-point ballgame.
With the game in the balance, the Giants continued to pepper the Lions’ try-line but the home side held firm – forcing mistakes from a tiring Joondalup.
The Giants would live to rue some missed opportunities as 2017 Ken Allen Medal winner Jones killed off the game with his second try just five minutes from time.
Nicho was then sent off in the dying stages for a dangerous tackle on Kade McDonald, but it made no difference to the scoreline as South Perth ran out 22-10 winners.
In other games around the grounds, the North Beach Sea Eagles returned to winning ways with an emphatic 90-6 win over the Willagee Bears, while the Rockingham Sharks hosted the Fremantle Roosters in the late kickoff.