Sharks pip Lions in thriller

Southern Telegraph - - Sport - Pete Rowe

Rock­ing­ham Sharks pro­duced the come­back of the sea­son so far at Franklin Off­shore Sport­splex on Satur­day to earn their first win of the sea­son in what coach Dar­ren Shaw said was his proud­est mo­ment at the club.

Down 22-6 at half-time, the Sharks were on the end of a maul­ing by the South Perth Lions but pro­duced an amaz­ing se­cond half to win the game 28-24.

“I am so proud of the lads for what was a su­perb per­for­mance,” Shaw said.

“I asked a few of them to show me what they could do and they did that — and more.

“Young Jack (Wray, half-back) came of age and ev­ery­one gave their all.”

South Perth coach Hay­den Fisher con­ceded they had been beaten by the bet­ter team over the whole game.

“We played su­perbly in the first half but Rock­ing­ham showed us in that se­cond half that this game is about 80 min­utes and not 40,” he said.

It all looked very dif­fer­ent ear­lier when the Lions found gaps out wide to ex­ploit both flanks, scor­ing four unan­swered tries in the first 30 min­utes.

The Sharks had lit­tle pos­ses­sion as the Lions found their mo­men­tum. But once Wray scored the first of his two tries in the 35th minute, the tide slowly be­gan to turn.

An un­for­tu­nate Kieren Crowe mis­take from the kick-off gave the ball back to the Lions just be­fore the break and an­other set and well-worked try gave the vis­i­tors a 22-6 lead.

Some might be for­given for think­ing the game was over, but Shaw con­firmed he told the play­ers to keep do­ing what they were good at, play­ing out their sets and forc­ing the op­po­si­tion to de­fend and make mis­takes. “I knew we had more in our tank to give in that se­cond pe­riod,” he said.

And more they cer­tainly had.

Within four min­utes of the restart, from a solid push up­field, Jules Wil­son-Wyl­lie, in at prop for­ward for the in­jured Ben Bolthe, took an off­load from An­drew Jef­fery to barge over from 10m out.

Wray kicked the ex­tras and it was game on.

Wray then scored his se­cond of the day when he clev­erly saw a gap in the Lions de­fen­sive line to run 15m to score.

From 16 points down the Sharks were fly­ing — tena­ciously push­ing South Perth, in a de­fen­sive show that kept their op­po­nents at bay.

Even a lop­sided 7-2 penalty count did not help the Lions as an­other try came from a su­per break 55m out.

Young English winger Tom Halliday beat three play­ers on a daz­zling run to score un­der the posts and, sud­denly, af­ter Wray had kicked the ex­tras, it was an even ball game.

This game still had 20-plus min­utes to run and the points were up for grabs.

When the Lions kicked a two­point penalty with 11 min­utes to go to take a two-point lead, South Perth hoped they had done enough.

But with seven min­utes left, af­ter a penalty in the Sharks’ favour af­ter Halliday was tack­led in mid-air, Rock­ing­ham switched up a gear.

An­thony Bow­man, play­ing in the halves in place of the in­jured John Taituha, or­ches­trated the left-hand side of the at­tack, set­ting up Joe Martin and then Con­nor Hudson to find the white­wash.

Wray’s kick gave the Sharks a four-point cush­ion but there were still four min­utes to play and they still had to grind their op­po­nents down and wait for that siren.

When it came, it sig­nalled joy on and off the field as this young team showed they were be­gin­ning to be­come the real deal.

In ear­lier games, women’s league tag lost 10-4, Matty Pora’s third grade won 36-4 and Dave Tito’s re­serves saw off their op­po­nents 20-6.

Pic­ture: Nan­cye Per­rin

Jack Wray, right, brings an­other South Perth at­tack to an end, aided by Kieren Crowe.

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