The Rockingham Sharks’ grand final aspirations suffered a setback with a 38-22 loss to the Fremantle Roosters in Saturday’s WA Rugby League semi-final.
The Sharks started strongly and dominated the first 10 minutes, but could only manage six points on the board against a slow-starting Fremantle.
The Roosters then had a purple patch of their own, putting on 10 points in five minutes to take the lead.
Leading 16-10 at the break, Rockingham were controlling the play, thanks largely to Caleb Reedy.
Their scoring came on the back of double sets, which were set up by the half-back and forced Fremantle into kicking errors.
The Sharks suffered a massive blow when Australian Affiliated States hooker and distributor Andrew Jeffries broke his foot, effectively ruling him out for the remainder of the season.
In addition, Sharks five-eighth John Taituha was injured early, which seemed to unsettled the team in the closing stages of the first half. Fremantle scored tries at the five and 17-minute marks of the second half to take a handy lead.
They remained in total control with the Sharks’ defence in pieces for much of the second half. It was not until the 76th minute that Rockingham posted their only score of the half, through Josh Simm.
Fremantle, who enjoyed a solid start to the season and are the only side to have beaten North Beach, fell off the pace through injuries mid-season.
They have now got all but one of their best 17 on the field.
Delane Edwards (two tries) and Joseph Skipper were best for the Roosters.
Vinny Talatala, Brenton Cowan, and Cameron Marshall were Rockingham’s best.
Rockingham coach Martyn Wood admitted his side had missed an opportunity.
‘‘The terrible start to the second half cost us and reflected a poor week on the track where we did not have the full squad at training,’’ Wood said.
The Sharks reserves played out a thriller in the elimination final against Fremantle at George Burnett Park.
Scores were tied after 90 minutes of play, before an intercept try gave Fremantle a 20-16 win.Best Players were Kaine Buckwell and John Hopa
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