The Goose Step – 2023 Senior Semi Final Edition – Men’s

Welcome to the Goose Step!
Well the ladies have had their turn. Time for the lads now.
With the senior finals action kicking off today, lets have a look at the games!

Fuel To Go & Play Premiership – Saturday – 3:30pm
Treeby Community & Sports Centre, Treeby

Minor Premiers – Fremantle Roosters

Major Semi Final – Roosters vs Sea Eagles
Alot of people think this is a preview of the grand final. When both teams are at their strongest they are both very impressive and classy. They also have distanced themselves from the pack towards the back end of the year, and you’d be a brave man to bet against them.

The Roosters are the big title favourites. Minor Premiers 3 weeks out from the finish, they have gone from strength to strength this season with their normal flowing style. Consistency of lineup has been an issue because of injury and work commitments, but when you have the everywhere man in Delane Edwards, it does make it slightly easier. The return of Robert Kerr is a massive in, along with the discovery of Jayden Solomon, who is comfortable in any spine position. But this is probably as good as this team gets. Po’uhila and Manu in the centres, with Hignett and Riggs back in on the wings. Most of the pack is on deck. The fact they can leave Tabakanaca at 18th man is testament to the strength of their lineup. They also go to another level in the finals and will be putting down the accelerator for the final 3 weeks here.

Enter the challengers. North Beach have been on the Roosters tail all season, and have the points scoring ability to go with them as well. But its the Sea Eagles ability to put together a complete performance that is missing at the moment. Last week the Giants led the Sea Eagles 8-0 at half time. After that, the Sea Eagles exploded and score 40 points in the second half to win 40-18. They have speed to burn and outside of a couple of players, they look ready to go. McDonald is back and in the centres with Grey this week, to allow for Shand and Wallace to partner up in the halves. But the key for this game will be the dummy half work of Trent Trotter. His influence on the game was bare for all to see last week, and when he goes Bailey Miller is not far away.

George Burnett Park, Karawara
Elimination Semi Final – Lions vs Giants
The question for this game is can the Lions or Giants get it right, with the right lineup, to trouble the other two teams in this finals series. When things are going well and they are allowed to play their game, they can really ramp the pressure on teams. But inconsistency of play and lineup has hurt both teams this year.

For the Lions, they have handled the Giants pretty well this season. Their no non-sense approach, with the introduction of the mercurial Ed Proudler to add to their playmaking makes them a tough mark for the erratic Giants. It’ll all be about completions for the Lions, but they actually look settled for a change. Thomas and Paish look comfortable in the centres, with Josh Adu a big inclusion on the wing. But its the settled nature of the forwards that is promising. With Noble and Green up front and in good form, their backrow is one of the best in the competition with Hocking, Gourgaud and Smith in great form, and Timlin in the wings on the bench. They will need to make sure they take their opportunities in this one as they have been wasteful in the red zone this year.

The Giants have been up and down all year. They look good for parts of all their games, and then they can get distracted and play poorly for a portion and lose the game in the section. And they are missing a few troops this week. Although they go in this week with a good spine in Martin, Marshall, Sheehan and Byrnes. They will look to them to really control this fixture and lean on the Marshall kicking game to continually turn the Lions around. Like most games though, whoever controls the middle will go a long way to winning this contest, and Irvine, Smith and man mountain Pomare will need to really stand up and be counted. This will be one great contest!

Val Murphy Trophy – Saturday – 2:00pm
Treeby Community & Sports Centre, Treeby

Minor Premiers – Fremantle Roosters

Major Semi Final – Roosters vs Tigers
Its a grand final rematch from 2022, but to say it is the same teams would be stretching the truth a bit. Both sides look different, with the Tigers in particular shocking everyone with their refusal to give in this year despite work and injury. The Roosters won’t be taking this one easy.

The Roosters have been the best side all year. The are a well balanced team, who have first grade talent sprinkled in with some serious workers and experienced val murphy trophy players. Wade-Whalan at the back has had arguably his best season, across multiple positions, while the form of Shorey and Day on the wings has contributed to the brilliant start to their sets with the ball. They’ve lost Carl Wilson for the year, which is massive, but when offset with the introductions of Peakman and Hicks in the pack, they’ve got some real players and will have no excuses in the finals series.

The Tigers strength lies in their spine. Broughton, Grey and Bramley along with new guy Piere at the back have shown that they can go with any team in the competition on their day. But they are very light in other areas and injury has hurt them at different stages. They will need big games from Alofi and Akroyd as their forward leaders and will be looking for a big X-Factor series from their backrow ace in Jesse Rihari. They are a well coached side, but need to make sure their discipline holds up today.

George Burnett Park, Karawara
Elimination Semi Final – Lions vs Sea Eagles
Its the old enemies in this one, with the South Perth Lions and North Beach Sea Eagles facing off to stay in the competition. Both with up and down seasons, its the Lions who come into this one on the back of momentum, while the Sea Eagles will be looking to stem the tide and cause an upset at the Lions home.

The South Perth Lions are a powerful team. Their game is built on effort, defence and the ability to just continue to break down a side until they finally give in. A mirror of their coach, they aren’t the most flashy side, but tend to go after you every single second the clock is ticking, regardless of the score. Led by Hulena and Tumoana, they have one of the most reliable halves combinations in Val Murphy, with both spending time in the Premiership side. But the soul of the team is in the grinders. Winiata, Russell and Lindner are out and out Lion Hearted and will push and push all day.

The Sea Eagles are not the “grinding” side their opponents are. They have tended to stay with teams for long periods and then just go “BANG!” and leave their opponents in the dust and on the scoreboard. Led by the mercurial Godecke at lock, he has found some serious backup this year in the returning Ben Taylor and the ageless James Blake, who both continue to terrorize defences. But the key for their win will be wider. Watch for Kyani Byron, Jay Roa and Bray Cowan who will fancy themselves a chance against their counterparts today.

NRL WA Third Grade – Saturday – 12:40pm
Treeby Community & Sports Centre, Treeby

Minor Premiers – Kalamunda Bulldogs

Major Semi Final – Bulldogs vs Storm
The Kalamunda Bulldogs were undefeated this year and it will take a mountain of effort to knock them off that perch, but it has been the Mandurah Storm who have emerged from the pack to get first crack at them in the Semis, so lets take a look at the two teams.

The Bulldogs are the perfect third grade, 20 man style, unlimited interchange team. Big. Fast. Powerful. Skilful. They dominate the game physically from start to finish and are actually scary. Every player is a handful, and in a style where fitness is not as much of a factor, they really go hell for leather. Sanchez Horo at the back is a handful, and very safe with great footwork, while their halves combination in Hiko and Solomona have all the skills and flair you’d want in a halves pairing, but look like front rowers. Then you look at the forwards. Collins-Davis, Tauiti, Ngapuhi, Cowley, Sharpe. Its a brutal looking team with a brutal style.

The Storm have been the big improvers in terms of their actual ability to play consistently at a competitive level. And the senior men are really buying in. Their first finals appearance and they have got some guys who can really go. Jayden Rowe at the back is in great form, and a danger anywhere near the ball, while lock Joshua Blenkinsop could probably play premiership at any other club. But alot of thanks have to go to the cool heads of the team. Captain Vassallo and fellow back rower Jack Lund keep the storm accountable, while grinders like Skerritt and Pearce just keep turning up play after play. They will give the Bulldogs a crack today.

George Burnett Park, Karawara
Elimination Semi Final – Sharks vs Serpents
And its an interesting final game for the men, with the Rockingham Sharks taking on the upstat Serpentine Jarrahdale Serpents. In a true contrast of styles, it’ll be 60 minutes of edge of your seat rugby league.

The Rockingham Sharks are probably the most likely side to push the Kalamunda Bulldogs in a 60 minute game, when full strength, while playing stock standard rugby league. But they have to get through this game first. They have the experience, cattle and nous to push them the distance. Kennedy and Heeley, with Grozinger at hooker is the most experienced spine in the Third Grade competition. If fit, they can control the contest and allow for guys like Howe, Buchanan and Walker to really impose themselves on the contest. While not household names out wide, Considine and Thomas can really hurt teams who fall asleep on them.

On the other side is the erratic and irregular SJ Serpents. With that unmistakable island flair, they don’t even care what tackle it is. They just go for it and are very hard to defend. On some days everything sticks, and on others it doesn’t, but geez they have fun out there. Niko Dawai in the halves position can really play, and is amongst everything, while their leader Oscar Murta is a big ball playing forward who gets involved at every chance he can. And out in the centres,Luke Matinasinga out wide is a damaging ball carrier and the Sharks will need to work together to make sure he doesn’t get a roll on

And thats the wrap! Get down and enjoy some serious rugby league!