Mile­stone marked with win

SHARKS CEL­E­BRATE 30 YEARS BY BEAT­ING SOUTH PERTH

Kwinana Courier - - Sport - Harry Rowe

ON a day the Rock­ing­ham Sharks cel­e­brated 30 years of rugby league in the south­ern met­ro­pol­i­tan re­gion, the 2017 model gave the 1988 ver­sion plenty to cheer about with a solid, but scrappy, 22-6 vic­tory over South Perth Lions in their fi­nal reg­u­lar season premier­ship game.

The Sharks head into this week­end’s ma­jor semi-fi­nal clash with Fre­man­tle, full of con­fi­dence after the win, but they were made to work for it, es­pe­cially in a sec­ond half lit­tered with er­rors and pas­sages of bro­ken play.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got the job done,” coach Darren Shaw said.

“We had a cou­ple of play­ers out and they will be back next week­end so we’ll work hard this week and pre­pare for another big game.”

The Lions, with sev­eral first team reg­u­lars out, put in a solid per­for­mance and will be a threat against Joon­dalup Gi­ants in the mi­nor semi, but will rue the er­rors they made as they coughed up pos­ses­sion on three oc­ca­sions to al­low the home side to score.

With winger Con­nor Hud­son mak­ing his 250th ap­pear­ance in a Sharks jersey, from ju­nior to se­nior, the Sharks wanted to get off to a quick start, but were foiled by the visi­tors’ defence.

The open­ing arm wres­tle con­tin­ued for the first 17 min­utes be­fore Hud­son played his part in the first try of the day.

An er­ror from the Lions and a re­sult­ing penalty saw a break and cross field move as young Josh Bransby – another club young­ster – crossed the white­wash and Tyler Hunt’s con­ver­sion gave the home side a six point ad­van­tage.

Thir­teen min­utes later the lead was ex­tended when the su­perb Andy Jeffery went over from close range – from another South Perth er­ror – and the Sharks went into the sheds 10-0 to the good.

Coach Darren Shaw wasn’t happy with the first-half per­for­mance and let his play­ers know, de­mand­ing bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion and ball con­trol.

But this Sharks side grinds down op­po­nents and this game saw noth­ing fancy – but a solid de­fen­sive show­ing across the field to keep the visi­tors score­less for much of the game.

Al­most against the run of play, and after a timely in­ter­cep­tion, the Sharks were in again, as Tyler Hunt, grow­ing in ma­tu­rity with ev­ery game, scored after a move set up by Reece Pot­ter and Bransby.

The one blip in the game plan came in the 67th minute later when the Lions scored, de­servedly, but the Sharks never looked like los­ing this game and full­back Ben­ton Leme Pyako wrapped up the tie a minute later, when another South Perth mis­take from the re­sult­ing kick­off gave the Sharks the op­por­tu­nity to end the con­test.

The ball was moved quickly across field as the tir­ing Lions defence strug­gled to keep pace and Pyako found a gap to cross in the cor­ner.

Hunt’s su­perb kick from the touch­line added the ex­tras as the Sharks moved omi­nously into the fi­nals ready to face the Roost­ers on Satur­day at home.

Three Rock­ing­ham teams will con­test this week­end’s fi­nals, the first grade mon­i­tor pre­miers fac­ing Fre­man­tle, re­serves will play Wil­lagee Bears and Third Grade will meet South Perth – all for a place in the grand fi­nal on Septem­ber 16.

Pic­ture: Nancy Per­rin

The Rock­ing­ham Sharks wore a com­mem­o­ra­tive shirt to cel­e­brate 30 years of rugby league.

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