Perth Juniors 2021 – Finals – Week Two Preview

Girls League Tag – Giants vs Lions – 10am
Here we go! Well in the first game of the day, the South Perth Lions will fancy their chances against a bit of a stuttering Joondalup Giants side. The Lions were the only side to actually beat the Giants in the regular season, with a tight 2 point victory getting them over the line last time. The will be looking for their strike weapon Marnie Maguire, who is a rare mix of speed and balance to get them over the line. With classy operators in Amy Therkelsen and Leokadia Tairea also in the side, they are a big chance. The main issue will centre on the fact, that if Marnie can’t get space and time, and the Giants shut down their main players, where will the Lions go?
The Giants on the other hand, have some serious strike all over the field. Starting from the dangerous Tyrah Parekura-Schirnack, and the free running Mya Walker and Destinie Mauchien, the Giants have the ability to hurt sides from almost anywhere. Adding in players with dangerous pedigree in Stephanie Spence and the reliable Ngamihi Monk, and it seems to be a few aces in the Giants court this weekend. But the finals make teams do and produce funny things, and only a poor farmer counts their chickens before they hatch.

U13s Boys – Sharks vs Tigers – 11am
In what I believe will be the match of the day, both of these sides got ambushed slightly last week, and while the Tigers used it as fuel to overhaul their opponents, the Sharks imploded slightly, came up with a couple errors and duly could not keep pace with the rampant Bulldogs. But you learn a lot from a loss, as they say, and the Sharks will be ready to play. Look for an improved performance from the Sharks spine, who seemed a bit shell shocked last week. Taniela Te Rauna has been a big performer all year, along with Taimana Hurihanganui and Hayden Hibberd, and they will need to be at their best to lead this side around. I’d like to see them use their width a little more and bring in edge back rowers in Christy and Lomano into the game a bit more, especially against the Tigers big pack.
Alkimos Tigers are not an unknown in this competition. They have a big forward pack, led by Dante Mira and Jahziah Niwa-Siolo which will look to impose themselves on the game early, along with defensive and try-scoring dynamo Xavier Cavanna, who will just need to make sure his aggression doesn’t get the best of him. But the real story here is a couple of the small men producing. Captain Tyler Ballantyne is short in stature, but one of the most complete and mature footballers in his age group. A leader from the back, he is vocal, confident and attacks the game with a rare edge which is a benefit to the young man, and is a part of a lethal spine which includes Chayse Berryman & Nathaniel Paora. What a game this will be.

U14s Boys – Lions vs Roosters – 12:10pm
So one team is coming off a big loss to a rampaging minor premier, while the other side looked like it was holding its breath all year, only to finally exhale in the finals and send a big warning to the rest of the competition. The South Perth Lions were completely outgunned in a first half salvo from the Rockingham Sharks, and only got into their rhythm late. But they did win that second half 10-6 which means they can match it when they get their defensive structure right. Jahkayis Mabbett will be the key man here. His relationship with his key men in Hone Skinner and the brave Phillp Saunderson in the backrow will set the tone in the forwards for the south perth side. They have the speed and skill to go with any side in the backs with Curtis Strickland Manuel-Nathan, Samuel Walsh and Tahupotiki Awhitu-Kerei all capable finishers. But defence will be key here, especially against the Roosters.
The boys from Fremantle finally woke up last week. And boy did they just explode. Well we know the danger of William Blair who loves the big stage, but Jesse Inall, Riki Hira and Lincoln Kemp were undeniable last week in a true power performance which will have the other two teams on notice. While they won’t exactly be happy they still allowed 14 points in a game where the Bulldogs barely had the ball, the pure offensive output and relentless running power of the Roosters was certainly eye catching. With the “Josiah’s” running the show in the halves,  young Benjamin Kelsey at hooker will determine the tempo at which the Roosters will play at this week, with his efforts on both sides of the ball key to the Roosters chances.

U15s Boys – Sea Eagles vs Lions – 1:20pm
The North Beach Sea Eagles need to find their mojo and fast. Soundly outplayed by a rampant Rockingham Sharks side, their unbeaten season has gone astray two games in a row now, and they come up against the hungry South Perth Lions, who will look to keep rolling on their way to the grand final next week. The Sea Eagles looked decidedly flat last week. Their usual hunger wasn’t there, and against a parochial Rockingham home crowd, they just couldn’t rest the momentum of the game back. Gun player Latrelle Chase will be looking for a big performance, alongside foil Eden Henare, who found it hard to get clear air last week. But its their middle that needs to stand up. Manaia Te Tana needs help, and itll be on the likes of Dickson, Wynne and Eparaima to stiffen up their line and show why they finished the regular season well clear in first place. They have class in spades, and only need to find that belief and confidence in their ability to put any side in the competition away. But the battle must be won up front first.
The South Perth Lions stole a game that they had no right to be in last weekend on the back of one simple fact. The believed they could do it. At no stage did their heads go down and at 16-6 with less than 15 minutes on the clock, and Ellenbrook dominating proceedings, they continued to show up in defence. Time and again players like Anthony Wigham and Cael Grubb continually put their frames on the line in an epic performance. And if your close enough sometimes, your good enough, and your star players can get you over the line. Particularly in finals. Gabriel Salelea is a precocious talent, and with Mataio Pora and Jordan Tumoana providing some serious foil and flair, the Lions continue to put themselves in the frame when the games on the line. They will have no doubts about their ability to get through the Sea Eagles this week in what should be an epic contest.

U16s Boys – Lions vs Bulldogs – 2:30pm
And in the final game of the day, we have a replay of last years grand final, although its two very different looking sides. Firstly the South Perth Lions are dragging themselves through the play off series. Missing something like 9 players from last years Grand Final team, they are playing hurt as well. Out enthused last week, they still continue to show they can put points on at will, especially on the back of Te Auturoa Awhitu-Kerei and Tanaariki Teaia-Harrison playing some great football. But they will need more from hooker Luke McDermott and classy fullback Jack Clutterbuck. These two players in particular cannot allow the game to pass them by this weekend, and they will need to establish themselves often and early, with no second chances anymore. With some capable players around them in Flood, Dipple and Poasa, they just need to lead and others will follow.
The Bulldogs are also missing some big players from last years GF. But they were at their intimidating best against the Sea Eagles last week and will be looking their bully their way into a grand final this week. The first 15 minutes of both halves will key for both teams, as the Bulldogs will look to start hard and fast, while attempting to hold on in the later part of the halves. Tana Mertens, Karra Wiringi and Jayzion Churms can rumble it up with the best of them, and when you add in the fleet footed Harlem Tata-Paki and trusty Brooklyn Nepia in the halves, they are a dangerous team that can get away from you. But if you want to see a potential game breaker, look no further than 14 year old Jeremiah Grant in the Bulldogs team. A brilliant player in his own age group, he possesses great speed, a level head and great footballing sense to make himself a factor in any contest.

Get up to Ellenbrook this Sunday, and support our local juniors for some great rugby league!