WA Smarter than Smoking Premiership Rd 2 Preview
By the BELL RINGER
South Perth v Fremantle: #NRLWALionsRoosters
The footy is back and what a day it was at Dorrien Gardens last weekend! The season makes its way back to the club home grounds for round 2 of the Smarter Than Smoking Premiership and the match of the round sees two first up winners the South Perth Lions and the Fremantle Roosters lock horns. The Lions were arguably the most impressive of the 6 teams in round 1, with a controlled 38-10 win over the Joondalup Giants. A few highlights from that clash was the guidance of the halves combination of Isaac Thomas and Eddie Proudler, but their job was made easier by the big men up front and Mason Hiko looks up for a big 2018, while 2017 Ken Allen Medallist Scott Jones was at his barnstorming best, add to that a very solid game from edge forward Dave Coffin and the Lions seem to have the firepower to match it with the much vaunted pack of the Roosters. The Chooks were without Brad Gibson last weekend, and he could be missing for much of the early part of the season with an Osteitis Pubis injury, but they still named an impressive starting pack headlined by Bjorn Crotty who had an injury interrupted year in 2017. Crotty was outstanding. He played before the line, ran at the right times, kicked a couple of times in general play and found space, kicked goals and bent the line every time he ran. Tarin Katu is another quality inclusion for the Roosters and the man who made WA state teams a few years ago has plenty of quality and will be better for the run, while Jordan Stringer was good in his return for the Roosters and will only get better. The highlight of the 22-20 win over the Rockingham Sharks was the long range solo try from The Raging Bull Taiapa Graham, who swatted chasing defenders like flies before dotting down under the sticks. Overall the Roosters were sloppy in their win over the Sharks and will need to be better if they are to make it 2 from 2, because the Lions looked very sharp. This game will be live streamed from 3:30pm, with round 1 of Women’s League Tag (WLT) (12:40pm) and Reserve Grade (2pm) part of a packed program at George Burnett Park.
North Beach v Rockingham: NRLWASeaEaglesSharks
The Sea Eagles missed finals in 2017, but after one game in 2018 they sit on top of the ladder courtesy of a 46-12 win over Willagee. North Beach didn’t have it all their own way though against the newly promoted Bears, with first half tries to Stevie Aull and captain Luke Pollock keeping them right in touch with the game at 22-12 at halftime. For North Beach their strength appeared to be out wide, with the impressive centre combination of Ben Taylor and Kani Solomon nabbing 3 tries between them, while Jeremy Wallace controlled the game well which allowed Cairo Takarangi to be at his creative best. Another player to watch for the Sea Eagles is their number 9 Zak Bishop, who I believe is the grandson of former St Helens, Cronulla Sharks and England halfback Tommy Bishop. With Trent Trotter, possibly to return later in the year, this combination around the ruck could cause all sorts of problems for opposition teams. For the Sharks their key is their big men up front – Ben Bolth and Richie Hicks were monsters in round 1 and when they weren’t on the field the Roosters looked a much better team. The Sharks will either need to get more minutes out of these two, or they will need to get more from Kasey Jordan and Damien Worth. The other standout for Rockingham was young centre Logan Barclay, who scored two tries and was a handful at every touch. The battle last week between Stevie Aull and Ben Taylor was fascinating and whichever centre has to mark Barclay this week will have their hands full. First grade kicks off a 3:30pm at Charles Riley Reserve, with WLT at 12:40pm and Reserve grade at 2pm
Willagee v Joondalup; #NRLWABearsGiants
Much has been said about how good it was to see the Bears back in the top flight last week. The crowd was at its peak during the Bears v Beach game and that’s down to the passionate fans of those two clubs, so the atmosphere at Webber Reserve for this one should be electric. The Bears were competitive against the Sea Eagles, but will be hoping to notch their first win of the year against a Giants side that weren’t overly impressive in their first hit out against South Perth. They appear to have plenty of strike out wide with the likes of Aull, Baldy Neho and Kotahi Erueti causing problems for the defence at different times, but the key to them competing week in week out will be the likes of Hymie Talisau and Manual Koia up front matching it with the more recognised front rowers for long stints. Watch for the aggression of Ryan Mills to get under the skin of the Giants and the quality work of Johnny Hookham from dummy half. For the Giants the key for them will be in finding some creativity with new look halves combination of Macey Howarth and Daniel Hansell Byrnes struggling to find a way through the Lions last week. The experienced Nathan Searle worked hard last week and will get better as the season goes, while off season recruit George Nalesoni will also be better for the run. They have the talent out wide with the likes of Rodney Mauga and Bryce McRobert, but putting it all together with a completely new look team will be a challenge for coach Darren Smith. There’s no women’s game at Webber, so action starts at 2pm with reserve grade, while the main game gets underway at 3:30pm