Comebacks are quickly becoming a game day formality at the Rockingham rugby league club as the Sharks staged their most dramatic of the season on Saturday, ending the unbeaten run of the Fremantle Roosters with a thrilling 42-36 win in the NRLWA Premiership.
Last season’s grand finalists served up another classic that had fans from both sides on the edge of their seats until the final minute.
Fremantle might be wondering what they did to stir the Sharks as they went in at halftime 32-12 to the good.
They had powered their way to an impressive lead – at one stage a 26-point margin – as the Sharks struggled to gain possession.
Lock Kieren Crowe’s blast through a hole 5 metres out in the 12th minute was the Sharks only response as the Roosters moved the ball impressively through their backline to leave the home side wondering what they had to do to stem the tide.
Put simply, the Sharks were denied any valuable possession to mount a comeback.
Josh Jerome’s clever grubber kick four minutes before the break gave the home side hope. First to the ball was young Will Smith and with Jack Wray’s kick good the Sharks went into the sheds with some belief.
“It certainly was a game of two halves,” coach Darren Shaw said after the game.
“At halftime I asked them ‘can you win this game?’ They responded with one voice: Yes.”
From the second-half kickoff the Sharks stamped their authority on the game.
Centre Tevita Pomale broke through from 30m out and evaded 3 tackles to cross – with barely a minute on the clock.
Wray’s kick added two more and the Sharks were sensing they really could win this game.
Pomale added his second minutes later in a man-of the-match display, showing pace and power to fend off a late tackle. Two more points from Wray and the game was suddenly within their grasp.
The Roosters, so organised in a polished first-half display, were falling apart, defensively lacking as the Sharks stepped it up again.
A penalty saw the home side move the ball quickly through several pairs of hands before Pomale stretched out to plant the ball across the whitewash.
The conversion was wide but the Sharks were in overdrive and Pomale’s long drive upfield was halted by a professional foul that saw the first of three Roosters sin-binned.
From the resulting penalty Logan Barclay popped the ball up, as he was tackled, for second-rower Ezra Taomia to score and the game was level.
Wray’s kick gave the home side a two-point cushion but it was a superb Josh Jerome 40-20 kick that set up the try that would prove the winning score.
Jerome’s magnificently weighted kick gave the Sharks possession 20m out and it fell to Wray to jink his way through 3 defenders to score.
His kick extended the lead but the Roosters were not done yet.
They came straight back and forced an error to set up a grandstand finish, for all of 3 minutes.
A lack of discipline saw them lose two players to the sin-bin as Wray calmly took a penalty in front of the posts to push the lead to six points.
“It shows how far we have come as a team,” a smiling Shaw said.
“We’ve suffered our fair share of injuries but the blokes who have stepped up have us done proud.”
The Sharks travel to meet North Beach this weekend in another big clash.