‘Scrappy and victorious’ was how coach Darren Shaw described Rockingham Sharks 58-16 victory over Willagee Bears on Saturday as they prepare for the weekend’s top of the ladder showdown with Fremantle Roosters in WA’s Smarter than Smoking Premiership.
“We played very well in patches but need to step-up the intensity if we are to be a real challenger,” Shaw said as the Sharks scored nine tries to three against a spirited Bears outfit.
Playing out ones sets and keeping possession is key to any victory in rugby league and the home side struggled form periods in the second half, completing only 56 per cent – but still found the try line with some scintillating rugby late on.
Halfback Anthony Bowman, in his final game for the club before departing back to Britain, scored two and set up two more in a man of the match display as the Sharks always looked in command.
Bowman opened the scoring after 8 minutes, cutting through a hole on the left edge after forward Ricky Hayes had done the hard yards through the middle.
Jack Wray kicked the extras and the Sharks were on their way.
But Willagee are no pushovers and kept showing up all afternoon. They got their first try 4 minutes later with a clever out-wide play and run that saw their winger cross before Bowman added his second.
Centre Logan Barclay showed why he has been called up for the State side with a great performance, scoring the first of his tries after 15 minutes and winger Tom Halliday squeezed over in the far corner to add more points.
A late ‘flopping’ tackle saw a Willagee player sinbinned as the Sharks went in search of more points.
Those came right on the siren with Barclay grabbing his second after the Sharks has made good ground courtesy of a penalty.
With Wray’s kick good, the home side led 24-10 at the break.
Who scored next, as the second half unfolded would probably decide the game – and it was Josh Jerome, off the bench, who grabbed the first of his double of the afternoon, with a smart inside run from 10m out to cross.
The Sharks’ scrappy play early in the second half let the Bears back in with another try before some surging runs from dummy half by Andrew Jeffery settled home fans’ nerves.
Youngster Will Smith, making only his second appearance for the senior side, crossed and Tevita Pomale showed his strength to blow through a tiring Willagee defence to score with a run from 30m out.
Pomale added a second with a similarly strong run after being put through by a superbly weighted Wray pass as the Sharks hit the 50-point mark.
But the Sharks were not done yet. A 70m break from fullback Connor Hudson resulted in a penalty for a high tackle and the home side quickly moved the ball across the width of the field to find holes in a tiring Willagee defence, the pass from Bowman to Jerome proving enough to find the whitewash.
The Sharks will have to step up their completion rates for Fremantle on Saturday but with two more points in the bag, coach Shaw was a happy man.
“We got the job done and we’ll be working on tightening up a few things for next week,” he said.