2024 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 13

By PETER ROWE

If recent results between Fremantle and Joondalup are any indication, Saturday’s Fuel to Go and Play Premiership Round 13 clash at Treeby Oval between these two sides could be a cracker.

 

This fixture has produced two draws and a close two-point margin in recent times and Roosters captain Duane Butler is fully aware of the potential for another surprise as his side looks to cement their spot at the top of the ladder with just five regular season games remaining.

 

“Yes, we’re wary, given previous games against the Giants,” Butler admitted. “We’ve discussed it at training and we know it could be a battle up the middle.

 

“It’s a game we have to win if we want to stay in top spot, but we will be prepared for anything.

 

“Joondalup are a dark horse this season and we know they pushed Rockingham all the way last weekend.

 

“They have some quality players, it won’t be easy.”

 

The Roosters will be without Jesse Day, Simon Tabakanaca and Jayden Solomon – with Sonny Kerr another possible omission after recovering from pneumonia. Bjorn Crotty is also expected to miss the game with an ongoing knee injury.

 

But Joe Po’uhila and Taipa Graham return in the centres and Butler confirmed they have 17 available players fit and ready for the game.

 

“It’s getting to the serious end of the season now, we need to get our structures right and step up,” Butler added.

 

Joondalup will also know they need to step up to stay in the playoff race and despite the disappointment of the narrow loss at Rockingham last week, will welcome some players back for this clash.

 

Halfback Taurean Sheehan is one of those and he is also aware of the importance of getting results in the final few weeks of regular season.

 

“We took a lot from last week’s narrow loss at Rockingham and we know this is another big game,” Sheehan said. 

 

“I know we’ve had some close encounters in recent seasons, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. Team lineups have changed and I know how good Fremantle are if you make too many errors.”

 

River Colman will be back at hooker and Mitch Haggart returns to the centres for the Giants, who lose a couple of interchange forwards from last week.

 

“We have to turn up, that’s for starters,” Sheehan said. “Prepare well, keep errors low and complete sets and we have a good chance.”

 

South Perth coach Marty Collis will miss his side’s game against second-place Rockingham as he is away with representative football in NSW, but knows veteran Daniel Green will do a great job stepping into his shoes.

 

“Greeny’s been there before, so he knows what to do,” Collis said. “We’ve lost Corban (Daniels) and Chris (Tutuara) so we will have to shuffle the centres, but our halves are starting to come together well and that stability is beginning to bear fruit.”

 

Samisoni Langi worked well down the left edge with Daniels and back rower Ethan Gourgaud last week in the loss to North Beach and Collis is hoping his young side can grow from that.

 

“We were good in patches but fell away late in the game, so it’s important we build from 15 to 20 minutes of good football to 30 and 40,” Collis said.

 

“We have just been making too many errors and that hurts us.

 

Collis added that player commitment and attitude has been superb during their recent barren run and with more completions and less mistakes they will improve.

 

“We have a better structure now with Harry (DeBique) at fullback, Jarred Smith at lock and Caleb Norton at hooker. We just need to stay in the game longer and compete, and it will come.”

 

Sharks player-coach Tom Murphy knows the Lions will be pushing hard for their first win of the season, and has prepped his men.

 

“It’s like a grand final for them wanting to get that win, so we will have to be ready,” Murphy said.

 

“Games against South Perth are always tough and physical and this will be no different.”

 

Back rower Brandon White will miss the game with a hamstring problem and centre Sirla Pera will sit out the game after suffering a head knock last weekend, but his brother, big forward Sam Pera could return after several weeks out through injury.

 

“We played probably our second worst game of the season against Joondalup last week, but got the points,” Murphy added.

 

“The boys have responded well and we know we have some tough games ahead so we need to up for it.”