THE BELL RINGER Round 8
By Donny Bell
South Perth v Rockingham #NRLWALionsSharks
Round 8 of the Smarter Than Smoking Premiership is Blood Rivals round and sees the Sharks heading to South Perth looking for an 80 minute performance in the Cash Converters Big Game of the round. Two rounds ago the Sharks gave up a 32-6 lead to Fremantle, before storming home to win. Last round they did it the other way around and flew out of the gates to lead North Beach 14-0, before capitulating 24-14. With many key players missing due to State duties it’s an opportunity for the lesser lights to shine. Many would have expected Jack Wray to make the trip to Brisbane with the wraps on him pre-season, while Connor Hudson’s inconsistency has again cost him a State Guernsey and they will be looking to show their value in this game. The key battles for the Sharks will be in the forward pack, with the likes of Ben Bolth, Richie Hicks, Reece Potter and Julian Wilson Wyllie all missing for various reasons they will be relying on some lesser known players to contain the likes of Shannon Coleman, Daniel Green and Rick Edwards, along with the returning Willem Boshoff who is back from a lengthy stint on the sideline with injury. The Sharks backline looks more than capable, but it’s through the middle that the Lions will be looking to win this game. The live stream will be brought to you by South Perth Lions Game Day Sponsor T&C Courier and Transport Services from 3:30pm, with Women’s League Tag (WLT) at 11:30am, Val Murphy Trophy at 12:40pm and Reserve Grade at 2:00pm at George Burnett Park.
Joondalup v North Beach #NRLWAGiantsSeaEagles
When you talk about Blood Rivals they don’t get any thicker than the Giants and the Sea Eagles. This will be another brutal exchange in Ellenbrook. Last time these two teams met Josh Toole got into a dust up with the Giants big man George Nalesoni, with Big George sent off, while Toole joined the Giant’s Ollie Callan in the sin bin for a different incident to the one that got him a 3 game holiday. That’s the sort of passion and brutality you should expect on Saturday. It’s one of those games where it doesn’t matter where they are on the ladder you just know it’ll be a quality contest, with neither side giving an inch. In terms of the teams themselves the Sea Eagles are flying high and have just taken top spot on the ladder, so they will not be willing to give that up in a hurry. The biggest news for North Beach is the return of the mercurial talent that is Trent Trotter. If he’d been playing since round 1 there’s little doubt he’d be representing WA in Brisbane right now, but this will be his first game of the season and with a few stars missing they will be looking to him to explode from the bench. For the Giants they are largely unaffected by the State tour currently taking place with their only out Nathan Searle, however they welcome back 2017 WA representative Gillesbie Fai, who will play his first game of the year The day starts with WLT at 11:30am at Charlottes Pavilion and that is followed by Val Murphy Trophy between the Giants and the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs at 12:40pm, Reserve grade between the Giants and Rabbits as well at 2pm and the main game at 3:30pm
Willagee v Fremantle #NRLWABearsRoosters
There will be few better chances for the Bears to roll the Roosters. Fremantle are the team that is the most affected by the state tour with 8 of their stars representing the WA against South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory. The Roosters don’t often lose two in a row, but they have. The last time Fremantle lost 3 games in a row was 2012 when they lost 32-30 to the Kalamunda Bulldogs, 46-22 to North Beach and 28-20 to Rockingham. Of the 4 current Roosters that played in those 3 consecutive losses only Ryan Foster is not in Brisbane. None of the other Roosters players will know what it feels like to lose 3 in a row and they’ll be doing everything in their power to ensure they don’t experience it this weekend. While the Roosters try to stave off creating history, the Bears will be hoping to make some, with their last win in the top grade back on the 3rd September 2016, when they beat the South West Warriors 40-26. Only halfback Lewis Samuels has been named for Willagee from that win, while Jon Prior, Johnny Hookham, Ryan Mills and Luke Pollock are the others in their squad that experienced the most recent Bears win. The Roosters backline still looks class and you’d expect that to be enough to see them start as favourites, but most are of the opinion that the Bears will cause an upset at some stage this year. Will this be it. All matches at Webber Reserve with the top grade kicking off at 3:30pm