2024 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 06

By PETER ROWE 

 

Both Joondalup Giants and South Perth Lions are hoping round six of the NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership will be the day of the underdog on Saturday as both fight to stay in the race for a playoff spot.

 

The two sides have just a draw to their name this season and both are eager to get that first win under their belt – a win that would give them much needed momentum.

 

The Giants host current leaders Rockingham and South Perth travel to North Beach (both 3.30pm kick-offs) and both are forced to make changes from previous games.

 

The Lions come off the bye round with Corbyn Daniel’s returning at fullback and welcome back Tere Cameron-Ramea and halfback Jayden Evans, but are still without the injured Daniel Green and hooker Caleb Norton.

Photo – Carmel Potter-Green

“Greeny’s still struggling with a sternum injury, so he won’t be ready this week,” team manager Paul Brown said.

 

“And with Caleb Norton also missing, we will move Luke McDermott into hooker. He’s only 19, but slotted into that role when Ollie Petit picked up an injury a couple of weeks ago, so I know he’ll do a job for us.”

 

Brown knows it will be a big  ask, “it always is at Beach”, but is confident his young side can match what the Sea Eagles will throw at them.

 

“We know their style of play, that they like to spread early and they are a mobile side, so we have to match them and cut out our own errors to stay in the game,” Brown said.

 

North Beach will also be missing players, the most prominent being exciting young fullback Bailey Millar, who dislocated his elbow in last week’s win at Joondalup.

 

Coach Phil Douche is confident he is beginning to get the best from his players and was particularly happy with his defence in that win at the Giants.

 

“We’ve got Bowman Stein and Shane Gillham back, so they are two big ins, and we have some good kids coming through our lower grades. We’re only a quarter way through the season, so there’s plenty to play for,” Douche said.

 

“South Perth are always a tough opponent, so we won’t be taking this game lightly, they will want to win, so we have to be on our best form.”

 

The Giants also know they will have to be on their best form as they welcome the Sharks to Admiral Park.

 

Both teams will be missing players through injury and work commitments with the Giants losing hooker River Colman, forward Payden Porter and fullback Travis Haney, so halfback Taurean Sheehan will move to the hooking role, a position he is comfortable with.

 

“We’ve got a few out, but that’s the nature of the sport. We’ve trained well during the week and know we have to find some consistency in our game,” he said.

 

“We’ve had good games where we have competed and then a poor game with too many errors. So we have been focusing on completions and cutting out those silly mistakes.

 

“Rockingham are the form team and can hurt you with their style of play – we need to be ready for that.”

 

The Sharks, who are already without halfback John McLaughlin and hooker Andrew Jeffery with longterm injuries, also lost a couple more in that bruising win over Fremantle last week.

 

Forward Sam Pera is missing with a rib injury, veteran Peter Worth is a doubt and prop Ben Bolth is away working, so player-coach Tom Murphy will again shuffle his side in an attempt to keep the winning run going.

 

“Every week is tough in this competition and this week will be no different,” Murphy said.

 

“Joondalup are always up for the battle and they have quality in Taurean (Sheehan) and Gus (Marshall) to guide them around the park.

Photo – Libby McMillan 

 

“But I’m really pleased to see how Te (winger Te Auturoa Awhitu Kerei) has stepped into our side and is improving every week. And Kelvin (Colman) has really made the No.7 jersey his own after we lost John.

 

“We need to focus on our completion rates and structures and get the job done  – and then take the bye round next week to get some players back.”

 

Both games, even this early in the season, could indicate who makes the playoffs, with all four teams eager to grab those valuable points to ensure they stay in the race.