Giants and Sharks to slug it out for fourth spot

Credit: Joondalup Giants

It’s as close to a ‘win and you’re in’ situation as you’re going to get.

The Joondalup Giants and Rockingham Sharks have been in a tense battle for the last WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership finals spot for what seems like an eternity, and it will all come to a head when the two sides square off during the final game of the season at Franklin Offshore Sportsplex on Saturday.

You could argue it’s Joondalup’s to lose. The Giants have a two-point buffer over the Sharks having won four of their last eight games.

The Sharks need to win – it’s as simple as that, and even then they’re not guaranteed a spot in the finals.

Joondalup’s superior +28 plus/minus means Rockingham must win by at least 15 points to qualify for finals footy, but Giants coach Darren Smith says his side won’t be cutting any corners.

“It’s a must win. You can’t think of it as points – you don’t want anyone taking the foot off the pedal,” he said.

“14 points is not a lot in a game – we’re just going to go down there and give it everything we’ve got.”

Having lost seven of their last eight games, Rockingham have limped towards the end of the season and will need to find another gear if they want to play into September.

In team news, Joondalup will be without injured trio Gus Marshall, Craig Richardson and Macey Howarth, while Jason Rapana celebrates his 150th First Grade game.

For Rockingham, English halfback Jack Wray will miss his first game of the season with Brandon Timlin pulling on the No.7 jersey.

At Ken Allen Field, the Fremantle Roosters host the North Beach Sea Eagles in a game which will likely decide the minor premiership.

The Roosters need to win by more than a point to finish top, while the Sea Eagles know a draw will be enough for them to take out the first title of the year.

North Beach will be without playmaker Josh Toole for the clash, while Fremantle five-eight Jordan Stringer brings up his 100th First Grade game.

Elsewhere, at George Burnett Park, the South Perth Lions are gunning for their seventh straight win when they host the winless Willagee Bears.

Lions halfback Harry Debique sits four points shy of 150 on the year and will back himself to reach the milestone after scoring 14 points when the sides last met in Round 14.