Rockingham Sharks opened their 2019 NRLWA Premiership campaign with 22-10 loss at South Perth, but showed plenty of potential to be challenging for honours come September.
In a game full of errors and dropped ball, new coach Dave Tito acknowledged there was still plenty of work to be done – but saw positives from the defeat.
“Yeah, we’ve a bit of work still do,” he admitted after the game.
“But the boys showed plenty of heart – that was reality pleasing.”
A defence dominated first half didn’t see a point scored until the 32nd minute after along break by Souths fullbacks Kade Macdonald eventually broke a hole in the Sharks defence.
Until then both sides traded blows, bot unable to punch their way to the line.
English fullback Nathan Hill twice saved tries, one suoerbly eyeing up his opposite number, to push him into touch inches from the try-line.
Hill, making his debut, was fired from the field laster inn the game with injury, but did enough to impress with his speed and knowledge of the game.
The Lions threatened again before the break, but it was the Sharks who levelled in the 39th minute when Karlo Trego crossed.
Trego was filling in for the injured Josh Bransby – returning to the side after a year off – but forced from the field with an elbow injury after colliding with the goal post.
Three minutes int the second half the Lions hits the front again after a high bomb was dropped, giving the home side the advantage, and the numbers to cross for another four points.
The conversion was good and the Lions led by 6 – a lead they were not to lose, although the Sharks pushed them all the way.
When Marcus Ngaro scored off some sloppy Lions play in the 67t minute, the visitors saw saw hope, but with mounting injuries, a limited bench and limited substitutions left, the home side pressed on with two further tries.
“We still have some things to sort but there were positives today, so let’s take them first,” Tito said.
The Sharks will have to shuffle their squad for round two on Saturday, at home to Fremantle, who were beaten 42-20 by North Beach.
Papua New Guinean Benton Malloney is set to return to the club this week to boost the squad and Luke Hughes, unavailable for round one, will also be available.
ROUND 2: Sharks v Roosters @ Rockingham Mazda Arena.. 3.30pm
1. Nathan Hill
2. Josh Neal
3. Logan Barclay
4. Josh Bransby
5. Michael Heather
6. Karlo Trego
7. John Taituha
8. Damien Worth
9. Andrew Jeffery
10. Charles Taniqoki
11. Dario Papalii
12. Ricky Hayes
13. Reece Potter
14. Marcus Ngaro
15. Julz Wilson Wylie
16. Richie Hicks
17. Ben Bolth