2023 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 14

By Peter Rowe

IT’S do or die Round 14 for Joondalup Giants and Rockingham Sharks on Saturday with just one place left in this year’s NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership playoffs.

The NRLWA’s Women in League round will see minor premiers Fremantle Roosters travel to South Perth Lions as the Giants make the long journey south to fight for a playoff spot at the Sharks with Giants coach Taurean Sheehan admitting it could go either way.

“It’s always a tough job at Rocky,” Sheehan said.

“We have to defend our line better. We won’t win a game if we let teams put 30 points on us.”

Sheehan will welcome back Josh Houghton and Dom Fidow-Kele in the forwards and is expecting a battle through the middle.

“Rockingham is one of the toughest battles of the season, we will need to be on form to win. If we can we use it as a platform to push on into the finals.”

Tom Murphy will welcome back influential centre Rueben Baillie but will be without big forward Sam Pera, who’s season is over with a rib injury.

“Sam’s a big loss for us, he’s been consistent all season, but it is what is,” Murphy said.

“There’s still something to play for and I know the club has a big Women in League day, so it would be great to give our fans something to cheer about.”

South Perth will be sweating on halfback Eddie Proudler’s fitness as they aim to get another result over Fremantle at George Burnett Oval.

The Lions are their only team to have beaten the Roosters this season but Proudler may face a late fitness test after rolling his ankle during the week.

“I’m 90 per cent certain he’ll be ready,” Lions team manager Paul Brown said. “He’s a big in for us, Not taking anything away from the rest of the team but his organisational skills and kicking game are a big positive. He’ll be ready.”

Roosters captain Duane Butler knows how influential Proudler is as well. “He’s their danger man for sure,” Butler said.

“We need to get off to a good start, we’ve not scored first in any of our games this season. We’ve always come back well but it would be nice to score first.”

Fremantle will be missing forward Ezra Taomia (groin) and centre Joe Po’uhila, but Sonny Kerr could make the bench after a long layoff with injury.

“Sonny could do with some game time before the finals, so it would be good to see him back,” Butler said.

Jesse Day also returns to a side brimming with confidence after securing the minor premiership three weeks ago.

The Lions will be without centres Corban Daniels and Josh Adu but Brown said the players trained well during the week and know what they have to do to record a second victory over the Roosters this season.

“Start well and eliminate errors,” Brown said of their key tasks. “If we are at our best we can win, but if we are 20 per cent below, then it’s going to be tough.”