Sharks lose grand fi­nal slog

ROOST­ERS ARE 2017 PRE­MIERS

Kwinana Courier - - Sport - Peter Rowe

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.

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