Porikapa Tukaki grabbed a double as the Cash Converters West Coast Pirates opened their 2019 SG Ball season with a 20-64 loss to the Canberra Raiders at Lark Hill Sportsplex on Saturday.
The Pirates ran in four team tries as they recorded their highest team total since scoring 24 points against the Western Suburbs Magpies in February 2017.
“I’m proud of the boys for turning up today and putting 110% in,” Coach Dan Manning said.
“The improvements are there.”
A slow start by the Pirates allowed the Raiders to pile on five unanswered tries to open the game before Manning’s side clicked into gear.
Trailing 22-0, halfback Kyran Namana produced the spark the Pirates needed as his interception on the halfway line paved the way for Tukaki to streak away to score West Coast’s first try of the season.
Five-eight Tamaho Teirney duly added the extras as the Pirates went into the sheds with some momentum behind them.
After the break, Canberra burst out of the blocks – scoring four tries in the first seven minutes of the second half.
With West Coast in need of a lift, prop forward Dylan Estriech delivered – powering his way over from close range for the home side’s second try of the day.
The Pirates soon went back-to-back as hooker Peliata Fisiihoi darted his way over from dummy half before Tukaki bagged his second ten minutes before time.
In a positive trend, the Pirates outscored the Raiders 14-12 in the final 25 minutes of the game just 11 months after falling to an 88-18 defeat to the same opposition.
“We had a bit of rust in the first 20 minutes,” Manning said.
“Once the rust came off, we started playing a bit of footy and got into gear.
“We worked hard and kept to a game plan. There were a few times we panicked, but once we went back to New South Wales football, we can score points.”
The Pirates now turn their focus towards Round Two when they host the Illawarra Dragons at Charlottes Pavilion in Ellenbrook next Saturday.