The Goose Step – 2023 Senior Preliminary Final Edition

Welcome to the Goose Step!

We are very close to the end of season and its all on the line. We are all together now as the Women’s Premiership jumps in on the Saturday as well.

This weeks Goose Step Star… Joell Irvine of the Joondalup Giants….more on him later.
This week we head down to Blueforce Park, Charles Riley Reserve, North Beach for the Preliminary Finals, starting at 11:30am with the Women’s League Tag.
Let’s get to the games!

Women’s League Tag – 11:30am
Waiting Grand Finalist – North Beach Sea Eagles
Preliminary Semi Final – Titans vs Lions

Well its the new team with old kids on the block versus…. the newish reborn kids on the block. The Kwinana Titans are a new side, but contain some veteran and out and out superstars, where the Lions are an established league tag program, who have recruited some new young talent. Lets look at both sides.

The Titans are looking to go from brand new club team to champions all in the same year. And they are desperate for another crack at the Sea Eagles who are waiting in the grand final. Some uncharacteristic defensive lapses last week left them a total to high to chase, and will be looking for an improved effort in this one. Gun player Rachel Toby will be looking to put her imprint on this one. Watch for the threat of Hanna Robinson and the talented but streaky form of Aroha Taipeti in this one.

For the Lions, they are all about breaking off the shackles and just playing fast and fun rugby league. A free flowing side, who just make it happen from all over the field, they saw off the Tigers last week in a massive rush of points, and then clung on for dear life, thanks to the experience from Michaela Turner-Wallace and Imogen Howes. The class of Beth North also really shone through, but they need to make sure their wayward goal kicking doesn’t hurt them this week.

Third Grade – 12:40pm
Waiting Grand Finalist – Kalamunda Bulldogs
Preliminary Semi Final – Storm vs Sharks

It is the scary Kalamunda Bulldogs waiting in the grand final, after using their size to over power the Storm last weekend. But the question remains. Do the Storm or Sharks actually believe they can beat the Bulldogs in a winner take all grand final?

The Mandurah Storm are in their first finals series after being the competitions whipping boys for quite a while. And they would agree, when your winning its much easier to attract the guys for games and training. While they aren’t a highlight team, they are a gutsy group, who never go away. A gritty side, they are impossible to shake and make you fight for the full 60 minutes the clock is ticking. Unawin Clarke and Jack Pepper represent an unorthodox but dangerous centre pairing, while fullback Jayden Rowe is a difficult matchup one on one for any player.

For the Rockingham Sharks, talent is not the issue. They have more than enough to go with the best sides in the competition. Injury, availability and consistency of form are the big hurdles they must overcome. They are an erratic side, and I don’t think they have ever come out of the blocks this season and led a team convincingly from start to finish. Francis Terepo is a brilliant open field runner, who while not strong in contact can beat a man or two with ease. But the big in here is Luke Hughes. An absolute hurricane in the jersey he will be a menace on an edge for the Sharks, and will help the sides power running with the help of Isaac Tamatoa who was great for them last week off the bench.

Val Murphy Trophy – 2:00pm
Waiting Grand Finalist – Fremantle Roosters
Preliminary Semi Final – Tigers vs Lions

Well the Roosters survived in a tight shootout last week against a plucky Tigers side, while the Lions got it done in a frantic game against the Sea Eagles. But this competition seems the most wide open with all three teams capable of anything on the day.

For the Tigers, injury and work availability has hampered them all season. Bit of a common theme in WA, but it has really hurt them this season. The loss of some key players to the Giants Premiership cause has also seen them need to fill some really big gaps, so its actually amazing they find themselves back fighting for the title. Led by one of the bravest forwards in the competition in Manu Rakena they won’t be giving anything away to the Lions this weekend. Aaron McDonald is an underrated half who will lead them around the field, while the centre pairing of McRobert and Kihi-Jones looks like an ace in the hole for the Tigers side.

South Perth are the momentum side of this competition. They have looked on fire over the last month and a half and their form has seen them blow many teams off the paddock, including the Tigers in that run. Samuel Gerbasch has been a revelation at fullback, with safe hands and great offensive acumen really allowing his halves to get them around the field. They also have a trusty centre pairing of Simpson and Matthews, who will not flashy get through a tonne of work and love the tough stuff just as much as the flashy stuff at the other end of the field. And while some teams lose a bit of momentum when they reach for their substitutions, the Lions have McEnteer and Clemens who come on and just push the tempo.

Women’s Premiership – 3:30pm
Waiting Grand Finalist – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs
Preliminary Semi Final – Roosters vs Giants

Well its the big three again. Rewind 4 years and these powerhouses of women’s rugby league were regularly fighting it out, albeit with the Rabbitohs coming out on top in every edition. They have gotten to the Grand Final first again, with the Roosters unable to get on the score sheet in a 4-0 victory last week, while the Giant swept past the injured Sea Eagles. Who will be ready to take it to the red and green in the grand final?

The Roosters were many things last week. Brave. Tough. Uncomprimising. Committed. But you can also say there were not smart. They lacked discipline and committed too many errors to deserve a victory over the reigning premiers. The lack a spark with the ball, but also the maturity to understand when to actually pull the trigger. They are a better team then that. And they will be out to prove it. Tiana Graham comes back in, which is massive. A true ball player and creator, she will add massively and take the pressure off Tini and Paul, and will also allow Foster to just do what she does best and run. One of the big queries, can they generate enough fast and clean ball out to Paekau and Webb to just let them do their thing?

The Giants are hungry. In the last round game of the year, they put down a statement against the Rabbitohs that they wouldn’t be intimidated and they look ready to go. While the Sea Eagles were undermanned, the Giants still got through their game with minimum fuss and now come into this with a full lineup. Stephens goes back to 13, her best position with Wylie coming back to the halves. And new girl, Haylee Hifo comes back in as a true fullback, which allows Cave to be the running centre that she excels at. There are no excuses here for the Giants. 

Men’s Fuel To Go & Play Premiership – 4:50pm
Waiting Grand Finalist – Fremantle Roosters
Preliminary Semi Final – Sea Eagles vs Giants

Who do the Roosters not want to see in the Grand Final? The Sea Eagles have been the second best side all year and while they haven’t gotten the Roosters yet, they will feel like they are the ones who deserve the chance to meet them and have a crack in the grand final. A fast team, with great movement and talented ball runners they have trouble the Giants. The Giants on the other hand, have fancied themselves against the Roosters all year, challenging them with their size at every opportunity. And their free flowing style last week against the Lions was a breath of fresh air. Lets go for a deeper look at the teams.

The Sea Eagles were in the game for 40 minutes last weekend. And then they were blown out by a more committed, physical and hungry Roosters team. But they learnt some big lessons and will want another crack at the defending premiers. And they have matched up very well with the Giants all year. The key is in the spine, with Trent Trotter obviously the big name that stands out, but the return of Tyrone Cranston, to partner Jeremy Wallace in the halves is massive, with the class just oozing out. You add in the fact, that they have managed to squeeze in Millar, De Vorms, McDonald, Grey and Morgan into their backline, it is a truely intimidating sight. But the most important person in this lineup is the big man himself up front in Gershom Adams. Returning with a vengance in 2023, he will need help from his team mates to control the monsters that are about to be unleashed this weekend.

The Joondalup Giants are playing with house money. Their game on the weekend, was the most free and most fun you have seen from them in a long time. Racking up the points, laughing and smiling while still doing the hard work. They are the underdogs and they know it, and they won’t hold back this weekend. And leading the charge will be possibly the biggest, most skilful and scariest pack of forwards they have put on the park this year. Fidow-Kele, Houghton and Pomare are all in this year and will join form prop and captain Joell Irvine in an intimidating forward rotation, while Rylee Captein has been turning heads with his strong form. Add in Adam Smith, who is improving with age, and Zien “The Kalgoorlie Nuggett” Carruth  and they have the set of forwards who can really stick it to any team. 

Its going to be a great weekend of preliminary finals.
Get down to Blueforce Park for all of it!