It was a tough day at the office for the Rockingham Sharks at South Perth on Saturday, missing five players and eventually succumbing to the Lions 38-18 in a scrappy Round 8 NRLWA Smarter Than Smoking premiership clash.
Lacking in-depth in key areas, the Sharks struggled to find their mojo as the Lions clawed their way to a solid victory.
Against a strong wind in the first half the Sharks were fortunate to only be six points adrift at the break as tries from Matty Rangiuia, Luke Hughes and a superb effort from Josh Neal ensured the home side knew they were in a tussle.
But poor possession and a lack of options enabled the Lions to take a firm grip on the game in the second period, adding four more tries before Rangiuia capped off a solid display with a consolation effort two minutes from time.
The halves never fired properly and when the Sharks did find themselves closing in on the line, mistakes proved costly.
The Lions though, scrapped for every ball, were dominant around the ruck and looked the better side throughout as the Sharks missed their State players (three centres, Tevita Pomale, Logan Barclay and Will Smith, forward Jules Wilson Wyllie and hooker Andrew Jeffery away at CAS championships in Brisbane, along with coach Darren Shaw) more than their opponents.
With two consecutive losses, the Sharks will need to find form quickly against Joondalup Giants in Round 9 this weekend at Franklin Offshore Arena. With both sides losing, the game becomes important as the competition reaches the halfway mark.
No excuses, the disappointment on the faces of every player at the end was plain to see – and after a silence that felt like an eternity in the sheds post game, senior players stepped to demand better.