The Goose Step – Junior Semi Final Edition

Welcome to the Goose Step!
I know its been a while. Its been a busy year, but finals time, coffee and love of the game has reinvigorated me to get some words on the page!
This weeks Goose Step Star… Young Bella Houghton of the Joondalup Giants, who is an up and coming superstar in our female ranks!
With the junior finals action kicking off this Sunday, 9am at George Burnett Park, Karawara, lets have a look at the competition.

GLT – 9:00am

Minor Premiers – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs
Major Semi Final – Rabbitohs vs Roosters
Elimination Semi Final – Sharks vs Lions
The defending premiers in the Girl’s League Tag competition, the Rabbitohs are the side to beat. Their only loss coming from a forfeit so far this year, they are still the side to chase, with last years Grand Final MVP, Leona Yusia starring in both the Tag and Tackle versions of the game. But don’t sleep on the other sides. The Roosters are the big side to watch in this grade, with young Maddison Mann proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. One of the more joyful teams to watch, they love and celebrate everything that happens and will fancy themselves a chance against the Bunnies. In the Elimination Final, the Sharks and Lions will clash in the battle of the Apex predators. While neither side has completely hit their stride this year, all their head to head clashes have been decided by almost nothing. Is it premonition to see our first golden point game early? For the Sharks, the classy Brittany Dean will dictate the running for the side, while the Lions will rely on Emily Smith to give them an edge in this one.

U13s Boys – 10:00am
Minor Premiers – Fremantle Roosters
Major Semi Final – Roosters vs Bears
Elimination Semi Final – Bulldogs vs Rabbitohs
The Roosters are the heavy favourites and with good reason. They are a dynamic, big, fast team with no glaring weaknesses at such a tender age. And with so many stars, Gabriel Hei Hei stands out as one of those kids who can really turn it on when given a chance. Fast and powerful, if given early ball he can hurt you from anywhere. But finals are a funny thing sometimes, and its a brand new competition. And when we talk about youth, The Bears are a great example. Featuring a young group of boys, who are mostly 12 years old, they come into this with no fear or expectations. And with young tyro Elias Tsakalos adding to their quality, they won’t go quietly into the night. Tsakalos contains real leadership traits that cannot be understated. The Elimination game looks to be an absolute heart stopper, with the big and imposing Bulldogs taking on Eastern rivals, the Rabbitohs. The largest margin between these sides has been 6 points, with both games being close, low scoring contests. For the Bulldogs, game breaking edge player Tamati Tawhitapou is the one to watch, with his power and speed, while the cheeky Nazea Grey lines up for the Rabbitohs. Possessing a skillset and ability beyond his years, Nazea can flip the switch and take the game away from you.

U13s Girls – 11:10am
Minor Premiers – Rockingham Sharks
Major Semi Final – Sharks vs Giants
Elimination Semi Final – Rabbitohs vs Lions
First of all, we had 5 teams in the U13 Girls, and want to congratulate everyone involved. The Roosters girls put their hands up every week to compete and it was a privilege to have them in the competition and we hope they continue to grow. And this competition is wide open. While the Sharks were the deserved minor premiers they have some serious challengers coming for the crown. But they will have to stop gun player Azalea-Maree Te Moananui. Arriving this season with a bang, she is an amazing athlete who can do it all and takes it in her stride. But the Giants won’t be coming into this game scared. They beat the Sharks in their last head to head, and they will get behind the powerful Peytton Wentholt, who is a scary prospect in this age group. In the Elimination, the Bunnies will come in as hot favourites. Probably slightly disappointed in their season considering their squad, they will look to make a statement. With the duo of Palace Koia and Kylah-Rey Tuheke Kupa in their lineup they will be playing some fast and furious league. But beware the Lions. They are an amazingly improved side, and have some handy players of their own who are figuring this rugby league thing out. Watch for young Shiloh Salele’a who only knows one speed. She will go full tilt everytime she touches the ball and then gets up, dusts herself off and goes again.

U14s Boys – 12:20pm
Minor Premiers – Kalamunda Bulldogs
Major Semi Final – Bulldogs vs Giants
Elimination Semi Final – Lions vs Sharks
A hugely competitive competition, the Bulldogs have been the most consistent team. Led by speedster Jacob Scoon, who dazzles with electric pace and footwork, they are the defending premiers and play a flowing style of football which is a pleasure to watch. Their one loss for the season was to the Roosters, who were the unlucky 5th finishers. But this week the Bulldogs lock horns with the hugely improved Giants. Last year Alkimos made the GF and with them not fielding a side, it has benefited the Giants immensley. Their brazen ability to all out attack, on the back of crafty playmaker Chayse Berryman, is like a hurricane in its execution, and they can end games a a devastating 10 minute period. In the Elimination game, the Lions welcome the Sharks to their home turf in what should be a genuine shootout. The Lions have been the superior side all year, with mesmerizing fullback Lexdon Cooper in stellar form throughout 2022. With great balance and flow, he is devastating at a broken line. But the Sharks have been on fire to finish the year, and its no surprise with the return of Taniela Te Rauna. “Tun Tun” is a ball of energy as he looks to lift the players around him. These games will be worth the admission alone.

U15s Girls – 1:30pm
Minor Premiers – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs
Major Semi Final – Rabbitohs vs Giants
Elimination Semi Final – Titans vs Sharks
The monster that is the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs casts a deep shadow in the U15s Girls division. A flawless record for the season, they have class all over the paddock and the footy sense to take advantage of it. Rimu Pomare is a standout in terms of her ability to read the game, and may just be the best of a talented group of sisters. But finals are a new competition, and if anyone is going to get them, you get the feeling its their cross town rivals, the Giants. Led by inspirational Bella Houghton, who can literally play anywhere, they got within 8 points in a slugfest three weeks ago, and will fancy themselves in the finals. If the Rabbitohs blink, they could see themselves fighting to stay alive. In the Elimination, the Titans and Sharks have had interrupted years. With sickness, injury and other activities affecting numbers, they will be looking to try and surprise the two other sides in the coming weeks. Leokadia Tairea is a pocket rocket, who will scrape and claw for every inch on the field, while Te Whai-Aroha Huriwai Brown is the Sharks out and out star. Putting the team on her back this year, she is one for the future.

U15s Boys- 2:40pm
Minor Premiers – South Perth Lions
Major Semi Final – Lions vs Sharks
Elimination Semi Final – Roosters vs Rabbitohs
What I like to call the glamour division in the NRL WA Juniors. Without overstepping the mark, I believe all 4 sides are genuine contenders for the title at the end. Firstly, the Lions have lost one game all year, and look like the most complete side in the competition. Powerful forwards. Fast backs. And a creative spine. Gabriel Salele’a and Jahkayis Mabbett. Mark those names down as your treated to an exhibition of talent. But if there is anyone with the power game to upset the Lions, its the Rockingham Sharks. The Sharks have the ability to hurt you from anywhere, but its skillful play of Tamarau Haimona which has really taken the Sharks to a whole new level. They can grind you out of a game now as well. In the Elimination Game, there is just as much firepower. For the Roosters, they were flying early, but lost a couple on the bounce to the above mentioned team so finish in 3rd. But beware the wounded birds. Have you ever seen a Rooster defending its territory? They will have a chip on their shoulder and watch for the diminutive William Blair. An absolute wrecking machine, when he decides to run, he is a pinball of raw power. It will be up to the Rabbitohs to try and knock over the Blue and Red machine, and they are as enigmatic as all the other Rabbitoh sides. If they decide to show up they are almost impossible to deny. Malakai Letufuga in particular has gone to a whole new level. Its not just his gameplay, but his leadership qualities that have really stood out. This is one hell of a competition.

U17s Girls – 3:50pm – Field 1
Minor Premiers – Kwinana Titans
Elimination Semi Final – Giants vs Rabbitohs
A great effort to get 3 sides on the field playing consistent rugby league this year, and I applaud all the clubs. While its not a big competition, all the sides are capable and have beaten each other at some stage this year. The Titans earn’t the week off, and were actually the last side to the party, being able to string a team together at the last minute. Phoenix Mahaki is a real baller for the Titans. Comfortable in any position, she is fast, strong and contains amazing ball playing ability. But to get a shot at the Titans on Grand Final day, the Giants and Rabbitohs will battle on Sunday. For the Giants, they will be a little disappointed. They rightly are the big bosses on campus in this age group and when you catch their lineup its easy to see why. Led by the indomitable Amiria Edwards, they are a powerhouse group of players, who make the game seem easy. Edwards is big, fast and physical and does it all with a smile. But the Bunnies know they can take it to both teams. Led by crafty captain Ohomairangi Stevens-Te Huia, they are a never say die side who embody their captain. A hooker/half, Ohomairangi is a brilliant defender and aggressive ball runner which belies her size. Good luck to both teams on the weekend.

U17s Boys
Minor Premiers – North Beach Sea Eagles
Major Semi Final – Sea Eagles vs Sharks – 5:00pm – Field 1

Elimination Semi Final – Rabbitohs vs Bulldogs – 3:50pm – Field 2
This has been a great grade to watch this season. If the U15s Boys are the glamour division, the U17s Boys division has been a massive look at some future talents in the NRL WA Competition. With all 6 teams still open for a finals spot in the last week of competition, the Giants beat the Lions in a heatstopper….. to send the Bulldogs into the Top 4.
But it has been the Sea Eagles who have led the competition this year. And they play some fast and furious rugby league. Led by the energizer man himself in Jake Matthews, they compete on every single play and actually make you pay for every metre on the field. Matthews himself is worth 3 men. Showing up in places he shouldn’t, he is in my opinion the best junior player in the state. But there are some players in the Sharks team who go very close to that title as well. And if there is one team who can go with them, its the Rockingham boys. Largely an U16 side, they will have another big year next year, but as it stands, they will want to win this year as well. Taiatini Huriwai-Brown is Isaac Luke reborn. Strong. Fast. Skilful. All in a package under 6 foot. This will be better than some senior games this year. In the Elimination, the Rabbitohs will be praying everyone is on deck and fit. Injury and sickness derailed the back end of their year, but they will be primed for this one. Jamie Hogan-Allen is a backrower with supreme talent and a great feel for the try line. On the other side, the Bulldogs are probably the team no one wanted to get in. It took them all season to figure it out, but they gave the Rabbits a trouncing a few weeks ago, and needed to rely on the Giants to get them in. Watch for Harlem Tata-Paki in this one. He is an amazing playmaker. Quiet and controlled, his footwork and ability to read the play makes everyone around him better.

Strap yourselves in ladies and gentleman for a huge day of rugby league this Sunday!