FUEL TO GO & PLAY – VAL MURPHY TROPHY – MID SEASON REVIEW
Down to our last senior grade, and its the Val Murphy Trophy competition. With it tighter than its ever been, its one of the more interesting competitions this year.
1st – Alkimos Tigers – 17 Points
The competitions favourites, the Tigers are a great side. With experience in the right positions, and an ability to score points from anywhere, the Tigers are a dangerous proposition. Led by Bronz Tumataiki as coach, they are playing fast free flowing football, which is great to watch and very hard to defend. Consistency has always been an issue for the northern based club, but they are continuing to improve every week.
Strength – Strike Power – Possessing some amazing firepower, they are the epitomy of strike power in this competition. With guys like Jojo Ranger, Tui Lasike, Corey Broughton and Codee Pomare in the side, they can literally hurt you from anywhere.
Potential Flaw – Consistency – There doesn’t seem to be any excuses for the tigers, but they lack consistency, on and off the field. FIFO players means their team is in constant flux, and they continue to play down a level to their opponents in games.
Key Player – Corey Broughton – Their most experienced half and player, their fortunes will rest on his shoulders towards the back of the year. A good game manager and able to take the game on when needed, he needs to be a leader at the back end.
Danger Man – Jojo Ranger – Jojo is a FIFO worker, but if he is back when they have your team, thats just unlucky. Fast and incredibly strong, he should be in the premiership competition. Breaking tackles and scoring tries for fun, Jojo is a scary proposition.
2nd – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – 17 Points
The surprise packets in VMT, they looked like they might not even have a mens team at the start of this season, but they have hit the ground running in 2021. A new style of Rabbitohs game, they are grinding out wins and edging out sides with clinical and fundamental play. Coach Puna Ranga has a well balanced squad with hard working forwards and dangerous backs.
Strength – Balance – With big consistent and hard working forwards, along with some dangerous fast backs they are a team with incredible balance in the squad. A mixture of young playmakers and older mature heads means they have great combinations moving forward.
Potential Flaw – Composure – There is a reason the Rabbitohs have rarely missed the finals, but have never been in a GF. When the game is on the line they tend to tighten up, especially on big occasions and lose composure. Can they fix that this year?
Key Player – JP Duportail – The evergreen lock forward is not the biggest player on the field. But he has an incredible work rate and is always looking for the tough carries. A leader for his team, he isnt the biggest talker, but is a get behind me sort of guy.
Danger Man – Tuveia Leon – Affectionately known as TV, he is only 18 years old. But is big, strong and fast and is proving an absolute handful for rival teams. A devastating centre, it remains to be seen how good he can be.
3rd – South Perth Lions – 15 Points
Here they are again. Lions with another team that are a benchmark side. Led by intense larrikin Greg Jones, the team actually epitomises the coach. Tough and uncompromising, with hard hitting no nonsense forwards, they play with a certain cheeky character and live on the edge in terms of game play. They tend to niggle other sides and play with a great aggressive attitude, that puts other teams off their stride.
Strength – Dominant Forwards – The Lions are an aggressive and tough assignment for any side. While not the most flowing side in the world, they play quick and powerful through the middle of the field and have some dangerous backrow forwards who can hurt you.
Potential Flaw – Gamebreakers – While they are a tough side to beat, I don’t think they possess a genuine gamebreaking threat that can bust a team open from anywhere on the field. They are a true team work team, and will grind and punch through sides rather than blowing them away.
Key Player – Jad Meale – So I actually really like Jad off the field. Nice guy, easy to talk to. On the field. Wow. What a pest. But his competitive nature really shines through. A mainstay, with good footy sense and their captain, they need him to be at his best heading into the finals.
Impressive Youngster – Wessel Van Tonder – Still young at 24, Van Tonder actually have huge potential. But his ability to harness it consistently from game to game is a bit of a problem. Athletically gifted, he needs to bring the mental side of the game up as well to really shine.
4th – North Beach Sea Eagles – 13 Points
The Sea Eagles are in their 70th year celebrations, and everyone in the club will be eyeing a big men’s triple crown. With reserve grade on track to go undefeated and premiership in a great position, can the Val Murphy side pick up its form? They have been fairly poor from their lofty standards, but when everyone is in town, they are still one of the most formidable sides in the competition.
Strength – Experience – The North Beach VMT side are brimming with experience. In the forwards and backs, they have players that have been around for a long time and are experienced at playing the sometimes frustrating lower grade footy. They know how to get it done in this division.
Potential Flaw – Playmaking Depth – As far as actual playmakers, Alex Mauri is a central figure. But his partners are either flashy new guys, nice all-rounders or inexperienced youths. Jake Ryle, Rory Noonan and Yane Tainekore are trying hard, but do they have the nous to compliment Alex in the halves?
Key Player – Hafoka Tonu – There are not many bigger names than Foxy in the Val Murphy competition, and while a nice guy with a ready smile off the field, he is a beast on the field. Big, strong and possessing the ability to offload at will, he is a dangerous mark for any side.
Impressive Youngster – Evander Richards – “Bubba” is a bit of an enigma. Comfortable playing anywhere from fullback to front row, he is a handful on the field. Tall, strong and faster than he looks, one on one he is a terrible assignment. Capable of playing higher grades, he enjoys playing in any circumstances.
5th – Kalamunda Bulldogs – 12 Points
Now I for one am glad to see a return to form of the Bulldogs in any kind of competition, and Mal and the boys are doing themselves proud. Showing up week in and out, they are playing true Bulldogs football. Combatitive. Tough. Bash mouth football. The Bulldogs are playing hard nosed football, and are going to run through anyone that gets in their way. Exciting and fun to watch.
Strength – Spirit – This is the most positive I have seen the Bulldogs in a long time. They are bouncing to get on the field. Their warm ups are loud, and when they are scored against or things don’t go their way, they are urging each other on and trying to push the tempo. A great return to a great club.
Potential Flaw – Cool Heads – The Bulldogs are all fire and brimstone. But when the momentum swings and tempers get hot, they could be accused of not being able to focus and bring their heads back on task. If they can just knuckle down and play football, they could cause some serious upsets.
Key Player – Robert Sharpe – At the ripe old age of 42, “Sharpy” can still get it done on the field. Although not fancy or possessing a brutal game breaking ability, he is an honest toiler and is the senior leader of this side. With experience a plenty, they will fall on him to lead them when it is all on the line.
Impressive Youngster – Devontay Tauiti – Possessing more talent in his pinky finger than many other players possess in their body, big D is a bit of an enigma. When he is on, there aren’t many better players. But consistency and fitness have always been the big question mark. Can he get it right moving forward?
6th – Rockingham Sharks – 6 Points
Now the once proud sharks team is a shell of its former self. Players having to play multiple games week to week, the third graders are suffering the most from the lack of players for all sides. Relying on unproved youngsters and a few old times who have willingly put their hands up to save the competition, the Sharks have still played tough football, only just losing in multiple games. While their finals hopes are probably finished for 2021, they can still hurt some other teams hopes.
Strength – Attitude – I will say this about the sharks. They won’t quit. And they won’t die wondering. Even with limited numbers they are pushing to get sides on the field in all grades, and are showing that when times are tough, you just roll your sleeves up and get it done. Bravo boys.
Potential Flaw – Depth/Numbers – As I have already said, the sharks just are lacking the numbers to be effective all the way through the grades. With players doing their duty and pushing into the higher grades, it has been a tough ask for the VMT boys to get the job done.
Key Player – Hayden Toby – Hayden used to be one of the most damaging wingers in the first grade competition. Work and father time have done their job on the old fella, but he is still a capable player, with footwork and strenght, and will be a goto for the VMT side for the last 5 rounds.
Impressive Youngster – Tupou Koroa – The impressive front rower is turning alot of heads down south. Having played in all grade divisions so far, he is still finding his true form and considers VMT his home at the moment. Strong and faster than he looks, he could be a future long term premiership player.
7th – Mandurah Storm – 6 Points
Everyone agrees, the Storm are a much tougher assignment this year. Their numbers are on the up, and their game play has come along in spades. No longer are they recieving blow out scores. The question is not will they win a game, but its now when will they win one? Who will be the scalp that the Storm get their first competition W against. With coach Kade at the helm, and some great young talent, it is only a matter of time for the boys from down south.
Strength – Club Growth – Storm are a club on the rise. Numbers are increasing . They are recieving strong publicity, and the culture around the club is a buzz. With numbers increasing on and off the field, the foundations are being laid for a good future for the Storm side.
Potential Flaw – Experience – With some exciting youngsters and some older hard heads in the middle of the field, they are just missing an experienced general and spine to get them to the next level. While they have a couple of likely youngster who could grow into this, will they explode one day and lead them to their first W?
Key Player – Unawin Clarke – Uni is the present and future of this football team. A quick fire halfback in the mold of Peter Stirling, he is quick, strong and a rugged defender for his size. A bit more experience and he will be a dangerous playmaker for a long time.
Impressive Youngster – Ross Lund – A household name in the Southwest, Lund carries a heavy burden. At the ripe old age of 18, he is already the senior club captain. A promising lock forward, he plays wherever he needs to for this side. Strong and determined, he never gives up and is a get behind me sort of player.