2024 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 07

By PETER ROWE

 

North Beach Sea Eagles coach Phil Douche is expecting an explosive rematch on Saturday when his reigning premiers travel south to face the Fremantle Roosters in Round Seven of the Fuel to Go and Play NRLWA Premiership.

 

Having beaten the Roosters twice – in last year’s grand final and again in their round one encounter last month – Douche knows the Roosters will be looking for payback in the NRLWA’s Indigenous Round.

 

“I would expect them to be looking to get on over us after those two results,” Douche said.  “So I know it’s going to be a big game, but we will be ready.”

 

Douche spent a few hours dissecting his opponent’s last game two rounds ago when they lost at Rockingham during the week, and knows it will a big challenge.

“They are a talented side with depth, and they will want the points so we have to be at our best,” he said.

 

Beach will be without forward Shane Gillham and lock Bowman Stein, both away working, but are buoyed by the return of centre Ryan Woolley from the Eastern States, where he trialled with the Newcastle Knights earlier this year.

 

“Ryan’s a big in for us and it’s great to have him back at the club,” Douche said.

 

“We also have Gershom Adams back in the forwards to add some punch.”

 

Douche wants his side to keep to their principles and the  “stuff we do well” at Fremantle. “Play off our strengths, keeping the ball in hand and kicking deep to turn teams around, that’s important,” he added.

 

“We’ve got no major injuries and apart from the couple of FIFO players, we’ve got a pretty strong squad available.”

 

One big out for Fremantle will be captain Duane Butler, who will miss four weeks with a broken rib sustained against Rockingham two weeks go.

 

“Yeah it hurts, but it is what it is,” Butler said this week.

 

“We’ve got a few out but a few returning, so we’ll be ready.”

 

Cooper Sanders may not make it with a sternum injury and Bjorn Crotty and Alan Cowen both face late fitness tests.

 

Taipa Graham is suspended for a week but the Roosters welcome back centres Joe Po’uhila and Benny Wells-Talamaivao, with player-coach Delane Edwards likely to start at lock.

 

“Delane can play virtually one to 17, so that might change,” Butler joked.

 

“We had a smoking ceremony on Tuesday night with our special Indigeneous jerseys, so that was special and we’ve trained well.

“We just have to cut-out the silly errors that cost us at Rockingham. Intercepts, offloads on fourth tackle, late penalties, we need to stop that.

 

“On defence we are starting to look good, it’s just when we have the ball that needs to improve.”

 

Butler, who will watch from the sidelines, hopes to see a more structured approach and for his side to be in the game for 80 minutes.

 

“It’s about 35 minutes at moment,” he said. “That’s not good enough.”

 

Down at George Burnett Park South Perth entertain the Joondalup Giants, still looking for their first win of the campaign and coach Marty Collis will be without Joey Halpin, Jordan Fetcher and Corban Daniels for the game.

 

“Joey took a concussion knock at North Beach last week, Jordan has a hamstring issue and Corban is away working,” Collis said.

 

“But I was happy with Hohepa’s (Hohepa-Tamati Taiatini Galvin-Dawson)  show in the halves at Beach and young Luke McDermott was also a standout at hooker.

 

“Daniel Green (sternum) and Jarrad Smith (ankle) are 50-50 at this stage and I will make a call on them before kickoff.”

 

The Lions drew 26-all at the Giants in round one, but will want both points in this return fixture.

 

“We have steadily improved as the season has progressed,” Collis said. 

 

“Last week we had a set completion rate of 57 per cent in the first half and 76 per cent in the second and we won that second half, so I can see improvement all-round, we just need to focus on completions and cut out the errors.

Photo – Carmel Potter-Green 

 “Joondalup are a well organised team with Gus (Marshall) and Taurean (Sheehan) in the halves, we need to compete for the whole 80 minutes.”

 

The Giants welcome back hooker River Colman, centre Mitch Haggart and fullback Travis Haney for the game, full of confidence after their win over Rockingham last week.

 

But, as is the case these days, they lose four players for Fifo work and rotate their squad again.

 

“It is the way of the game right now,” halfback Sheehan said. “We have to manage it as best we can.

 

“We had a great win last week and while one win doesn’t make a season, it can ignite the team to improve – and that’s what I think has happened.”