2023 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 11

By Peter Rowe

With just five games remaining of the 2023 NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership regular season, round 11 this weekend will see four teams keen to grab points in their quest for finals spots.

While Fremantle Roosters remain on top of the ladder, and favourites for the minor premiership, the battle for the three other places is hotting up.

Second place Joondalup have the bye this weekend as South Perth Lions host Rockingham Sharks and North Beach Sea Eagles travel to Fremantle.

The Lions, having beaten the Giants in a try fest last weekend, will need to be on their best form against a Sharks team that defensively is solid, but has so often lacked a killer punch in attack.

“Our biggest challenge has been discipline and execution,” Sharks player-coach Tom Murphy said.

“We’ve not been out of it in any game, so if we can get our execution on fourth and fifth tackles right, we have a chance.”

Murphy knows it will be a tough ask. “South Perth have a good, honest pack and they work hard for each other and remember, they are the only side to have beaten Freo this season,” he added.

The Lions welcome back Corbyn Daniels in the centres but have lost frontrower Jordan Fletcher with a calf injury and  centre Josh Adu.

Brandon Timlin will come off the bench and start at lock with Jarrad Smith moving into the front row to replace Fletcher.

“A few changes, but we have trained well this week and we are wary Rockingham will be up for it,” assistant coach Paul Brown said.

“We conceded a few too many points last week, so we need to tighten up the middle.

“Brandon starting will be good for us. He’s a tough, gritty tackle machine.”

Fremantle will be at almost full strength for the visit of North Beach, with captain Duane Butler reporting his side  “refreshed and ready” after a week off.

“The break has been good. We still have Sonny Kerr out, hopefully he’ll be back for finals but we’re confident,” Butler said.

“Beach nearly got over us at their place a few weeks ago, so we know how dangerous they can be. They have pace and they’re fit.”

North Beach coach Phil Douche said he had a few bruised bodies after the defensive battle against Rockingham last week, but emphasised his team had grown in self belief after that win.

“I could sense it in their eyes and manner,” Douche said. “It was a real positive to see.”

Beach will be without the influential Trent Trotter and forwards Shane Gillham and Kallum Gulliver-Brown (away on international duty) but welcome back Kade McDonald in the halves.

“If we complete high percentages, kick long and turn them around then we have a chance,” Douche added.

“And a low penalty count – giving the ball up in our own half will allow them to get on top.

“They (Fremantle) can hurt you but we are in a very positive state of mind, so anything is possible.”