Sharks lose grand final slog
ROOSTERS ARE 2017 PREMIERS
A BATTLING performance marred by two crucial second-half errors resulted in the Rockingham Sharks falling short in their quest for grand final honours at Perth’s Dorrien Gardens on Saturday evening.
In a classic slugfest game of rugby league, the Sharks went down 28-22 as the Fremantle Roosters claimed the 2017 NRLWA Premiership.
It could have been different had they converted a big lastminute push to the line, but as the clock ran down they were forced back, losing the ball – and the game.
The Roosters opened the scoring after five minutes and with the kick successful, took an early 6-0 lead.
Some big defence from the Rockingham club and a lopsided 5-1 penalty count kept the Roosters at bay for 30 minutes before halfback Anthony Bowman spotted a gap from 35m out and went for it, leaving several Fremantle defenders in his wake.
Young Tyler Hunt kicked the extras and the game was locked up.
The Roosters moved the ball across field and scored in the corner. The conversion was good and the scoreboard read 12-6 to the men in red and blue.
Roosters player-coach Delane Edwards was the star of the show, moving into the line from his fullback position to set up several try-scoring opportunities, but it was the Sharks who scored the next try.
Centre Geordie Connelly took control of the angle of attack and found Hayden Dangen-Toby outside to cross. Hunt’s kick was again good and the scores were locked up once more.
End-to-end rugby league resulted in both teams peppering the other’s defensive lines, looking for a breakthrough, and an error from the Sharks gave the Roosters possession and momentum to score again: 16-12.
Then back down the other end, from some clever quick play, Connor Hudson, who had a fine game, saw enough daylight to cross in the far corner:16-16.
But from another mistake when in possession, the Roosters took control of the game, finding gaps and space to run.
They moved up a gear and two tries later, in the space of four minutes, led 28-16.
The errors proved costly, but Rockingham never gave up, a trait this team has had in spades this season.
With Andy Jeffery directing traffic from his hooker role, Matt Ranguia and with big forwards Ben Bolth and Richie Hicks making good metres, they began to find space.
Fullback Benny Leme Payako was solid under man-of-the-match Edwards’ incessant high kicks as they built a platform to mount a comeback.
Veteran Pete Worth, playing his final game for the club before retiring, found himself on the end of a clever across-field move and he barged over from short distance. Hunt’s extras brought it back to a six-point ball game and the Sharks, with five minutes left on the clock, went in search of an equalising try again.
They pushed and pushed and had the Roosters hanging on by the merest of margins, but it was not to be.
One final set, after a penalty pushed them to within 20m of the line with 36 seconds left, gave the Sharks the chance for a miracle.
But it was not to be. The Roosters rushed the line, causing a dropped ball as the siren sounded.
For the Sharks, a magnificent season came to an end on a losing note, but this young side, with an average age of just 21, will be back, stronger and tougher in 2018.
Earlier, Rockingham’s reserves failed in their grand final clash against Willagee Bears.
A low-scoring battle in the trenches saw the Bears 4-2 at halftime, before they moved further in front in the second stanza to eventually run out 16-2 winners.
The Sharks are holding a touch football come and try day for all ages, men and women this Saturday, September 23 from 10am at their Larkhill grounds.
Fremantle's Delane Edwards beats Benton Leme and Connor Hudson to score the winning try.