Beaten Sharks face Giant task
MUST NOW WIN KNOCKOUT FINAL
THE curse of the minor premiership was the undoing of all three finals on the weekend as the Rockingham Sharks went down to the Fremantle Roosters 28-32 in a thrilling premiership game.
The Sharks’ third-grade minor premiers lost 18-26 to South Perth earlier in the day and the reserves knocked off minor premiers Willagee 24-14 before the firstgrade sides took to the field.
The seesawing cliffhanger showcased everything good about WA rugby league as the two teams fought for a place in the grand final.
The Roosters jumped to a 12-0 lead after just 15 minutes as skipper Delane Edwards showed why he is the best player in the state, with a magical performance to drive the visitors around the park.
His line breaks often had the Sharks defence at sea and it took 19 minutes before they had a sniff at the whitewash.
Halfback Tyler Hunt found space 25m out to dance his way past a host of defenders to score his first of three for the day.
Hunt notched up 22 of the Sharks’ 28 points in an MVP performance.
Geordie Connelly came off the sick list to bring the Sharks to within two points two minutes later as the large home crowd sensed their team was at last finding their gears.
Hunt’s conversion levelled scores at 12-12, but four minutes before the break, another Edwards controlled move set up the Roosters and they went into half time four points in front.
The Roosters extended their lead just seven minutes after the restart.
Hunt crossed for his second try of the day and his conversion closed the gap to two points, but a stupid error on the restart allowed the Roosters to recover a short kick-off and the visitors quickly marched up the field to add four more points.
Hunt added his third in the 59th minute, and with another successful kick, just two points separated the sides again.
When hooker Andy Jeffery drew a penalty short of the line minutes later, Hunt coolly stepped up to slot home and tie up the game.
Just 13 minutes remained to decide a winner and when the Sharks were awarded a penalty 35m out, Hunt was there again.
This time, his kick missed, but just two minutes later the home side was awarded another penalty in a similar position.
Caleb Reedy kicked the points to put the Sharks in front for the first time.
With barely three minutes on the clock, the Sharks got a short kick-off wrong again, as Ian Wood found little support when the Roosters pushed him into touch.
From the resulting scrum and feed, Fremantle scored the winning try to win 32-28.
“We go again next week,” Rockingham coach Darren Shaw said, as the Sharks now face the Joondalup Giants in a preliminary knockout final for that elusive grand final spot.
“But we made too many errors once we got possession.
“When we found space and got our backs involved, we started to hurt them, but some of the mistakes we made cost us.”
Earlier in the day, Neihana McMillan, Alistair Parmenter, Tangimetua Tangimetua and Cliff Oalu scored for third-grade in its 26-18 loss, and it too will face Joondalup for a place in the decider.
Tries from Logan Barclay (2), Tewhakapono Tuhua, Jayden Toelupe and Josh Matthews and kicks from Josh Jerome saw the Sharks reserve grade put in a superb performance to see off the Willagee Bears, who ended with two players sin-binned.
Above: Tyler Hunter scored 22 of the Sharks’ 28 points. Right: The reserves beat the Willagee Bears (red and black) to reach the grand final.