Savvy Roost­ers down Sharks

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph Sport -

The curse of the mi­nor premier­ship was the un­do­ing of all three Smarter than Smok­ing Premier­ship men’s fi­nals on the week­end as the Rock­ing­ham Sharks went down to the Fre­man­tle Roost­ers 3228 in a thriller of a main game.

The Sharks third-grade mi­nor pre­miers had fallen 26-18 to South Perth ear­lier in the day and the re­serves had knocked off mi­nor pre­miers Wil­lagee 24-14 be­fore the first grade sides took to the field.

It was a cliffhanger that showcased ev­ery­thing good about rugby league — two teams bat­tling out for a place in the 2017 grand fi­nal.

The Roost­ers, though, were the smarter and more tac­ti­cally savvy of the two, jump­ing to a 12-0 lead after just 15 min­utes as skip­per De­lane Ed­wards showed why he was 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.

Half-back 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 was the Sharks’ only real highlight.

He notched up 22 of their 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 the gears. Hunt’s con­ver­sion lev­elled it up. “But we made too any errors once we got pos­ses­sion,” a de­flated coach Dar­ren Shaw said.

“When we found space and got our backs in­volved we started to hurt them, but some of the mis­takes we made cost us.”

Four min­utes be­fore the break, an­other Ed­wards-con­trolled move set up the Roost­ers and they went into the break four points in front.

The Roost­ers went fur­ther in front seven min­utes after the restart.

Too many errors were hand­ing the ball to a hun­gry Roost­ers side, look­ing to dom­i­nate in quick play, the ball mov­ing both right and left to test a tir­ing Sharks de­fen­sive unit.

It was left to Hunt to re­store some par­ity and his sec­ond try of the day was an­other daz­zling run to beat three de­fend­ers. His kick closed the gap to two points but an er­ror on the restart when a short kick-off was recovered by the Roost­ers al­lowed the vis­i­tors to march up­field to add four more points.

Hunt added his third in the 59th minute and with an­other suc­cess­ful kick, just two points sep­a­rated the sides. When hooker Andy Jef- fery drew a penalty short of the line min­utes later, Hunt coolly stepped up and tied the game once again.

Just 13 min­utes of foot­ball 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 amaz­ingly, two min­utes later the home side was awarded an­other penalty in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion.

Caleb Reedy kicked the points and for the first time in the game the Sharks were in front.

With barely three min­utes on the clock the Sharks got a short kick­off wrong again, as Ian Wood found lit­tle support when the Roost­ers pushed him into touch.

From the re­sult­ing scrum and feed, Fre­man­tle went on the hunt for the win­ning try.

They found the space wide right to the up­rights as the clock ticked down to the two-minute mark.

“We go again next week,” coach Shaw said, as the Sharks now face Joon­dalup Giants in a pre­lim­i­nary knock­out fi­nal for that elu­sive grand fi­nal spot.

Ear­lier in the day Nei­hana McMil­lan, Alis­tair Par­menter, Tangime­tua Tangime­tua and Cliff Oalu scored for the Val Mur­phy third grade in their 26-18 loss and they too will face Joon­dalup in their fi­nal push on the week­end.

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 chal­lenge of the Wil­lagee Bears, who ended the game with two play­ers sin­binned.

Pic­ture: Nancy Per­rin

Re­serve grade beat Wil­lagee Bears.

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