The Goose Step – 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… Jason Godecke of the North Beach Sea Eagles….more on him later.
This week we head down to The Kwinana Local Stadium, Lark Hill Sportsplex, Port Kennedy for the Preliminary Finals, starting at 12:50pm with the Women’s League Tag.
Let’s get to the games!

Women’s League Tag – 12:50am
Waiting Grand Finalist – Fremantle Roosters
Preliminary Semi Final – Giants vs Sea Eagles

Well its the traditional northern rivals in the women’s league tag. While historically the Joondalup Giants have been the big sisters on the northern side of the river, in the last few years the Sea Eagles and the upstart Rabbitohs have challenged for the title, even to the point of forcing the Giants to miss the 4 last year.

But the Giants are back with a vengence this year. They look healthy, hungry and ready for a real tilt, and even a shutout loss to the Roosters won’t dent their confidence. I big part of the team dynamic for the Giants is bringing their “less experienced” players up to a better standard. Players like Frances Sparrow, Sarah Eames and Hayley Nepia have added real value on both sides of the ball to the big names and it has shown.

For the Sea Eagles its a matter of perspective. They have been fairly unsettled all season, with players form really up and down for the majority of the season. Some uncharacteristic losses were intermixed with wins against good opponents, and they are one of the few teams who can move the ball without fear from one side of the field to the other. Latoya Chase, Sinead Loundes and Ada Cox are all speed merchants, and you add in real ball players like Robinson, Marshall and the Whaanga’s and anything can happen.

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

Well the Roosters played their best game of the season and blew the Sea Eagles away in the Major, to setup another northern derby between the traditional reserve grade monster in the North Beach Sea Eagles, and the new upstarts in the Alkimos Tigers, who produced an absolute smash mouth performance against a shell shocked Lions side.

For the Sea Eagles, they have the pedigree, the experience, and know exactly what it takes to get it done at this time of the season. But there are some massive differences. Godecke is in Premiership. Harmer took the year off. And their pack of James Blake and the Roa brothers isn’t there to give them their aura. But they are still a talented side. Byron at the back is electric and Deba Cook is still in the top 5 players in the competition and can explode at any moment. But the forward pack needs to stand up. The Toka brothers, Ryle, Tetai-Boyce and Wootton need to be the leaders now and really force the issue against what will be a pumped up Tigers side.

The Alkimos Tigers were all fire and brimstone last week from the word go and basically set the tone of the game in the first set. And as a contest it was over at about the 20 minute mark. With no disrespect for the Lions, who played hard right to the end, the Tigers just ran with so much power and hit everything that moved that I was wincing while watching the game. And its not hard to see why they are the dark horse in this grade. Captain Will Akroyd is fit and damaging, Rakena and Pomare are kamikazee agents, and Mcalister & Cunningham were bullies on the edges last week. When you start adding in ex-premiership players like Broughton, Martin and Turner, people are wondering if they keep this level up, can anyone get near them?

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

The Sea Eagles and Giants play off in a repeat of an absolutely fantastic game a few weeks ago, which set the tone for their rivalry this season. In a back and forth affair, the Sea Eagles eventually kicked out in front and had to hang on with the Giants finishing fast. The winner of this has a big job ahead of them, but its all to play for this saturday as they goto a day fixture.

Forget last week. That means nothing in terms of the Sea Eagles confidence. They get two incredibly important pieces back. Trudy Whaanga and Caitlin Miller come in, and they are the confidence and direction this team requires. Their ability to get the ball on the edge to weapons Jones, Morrison and Loundes is incredibly important. They know what their strengths are, and they have the ability to actually play a really good style of rugby league with ball movement at its centre. Defensively they will all tighten up, with Whaanga a key ingredient in getting the young but talented group to really put in on both sides of the ball.

It would be a bold statement to call the Giants the underdogs in this one with the level of quality they have in their side, as the stars have aligned for the Giants to get their guns back on the park all together, and in the right positions. With Gillmor-Spence and Warren maturing as real halves options, it has allowed Stephens to play her natural lock spot. And boy did she make it count as she terrorized the Titans last week in the middle of the field. With Edwards and Tiakia in particular making it happen, they welcome back Smiler and Hamlin on the bench to really show you, they will be looking to go right up the middle against beach.

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

And its last chance saloon for these two sides, with two contrasting seasons from these premiership teams. For the Sharks, a lot of people see it as their best chance to get a premiership. They’ve had some good sides over the years (yep I have a biased view), but even when they lost the grand final in extra time in 2020, it felt like they were just on fire at the right time. Whereas this year, they have the squad to get it done. For the Sea Eagles, they got to the top of the mountain last year and after they finally did it after years of disappointment, a lot of players stepped away. Even some guys didn’t show up this year till after the season started. So while they are underdogs this season, it has taken a while for the Sea Eagles to get on the boil, but wow they look dangerous now.

For the Sharks, they were taught a real lesson last weekend, and they really didn’t show up. They looked fairly flat and if you fall asleep against the Roosters they make you pay. But they get to make up for it this weekend, although there are some noticeable outs which we won’t get into here. I know its the matter of work vs rugby league here in Western Australia that has always been a hot topic. But we are in do or die footy now. But watching the game, Tuuta-Edwards needs to be in the middle of the field for a start. At times they look rudderless, and with Andrew Jeffreys starting the game on the bench, the contest was over by the time he got on the field last week, and its a tough ask to get him to turn those situations around. But there are some positives. Wilson-Wylie was still ultra effective, and Murphy is a great presence amongst team mates. Fui and Pera are stallions that need to be unleashed. Its going to be a redemption for this team this weekend.

About a month ago, the chatter was that this was a two horse race, between the Roosters and Sharks. Knowing the proud Sea Eagles players very well, they would have taken it very personally. And duly knocked off the Sharks in a great game. And then lost ace Bowman Stein in a tune up game against the Bunnies. Again they get written off. Well no one writing them off now after they pulverized the Lions last weekend. Their unheralded pack led by Donkin and Whaanga ran a muck last weekend, which allowed Wallace, Solomon and the on fire Takarangi to do what they liked against a retreating defence. I will save my last comment to give the legend Jason Godecke a massive wrap. This year, has played fullback, halves and wing during the regular season, with stints off the bench. Anyway, Stein goes down. And Godecke steps in to fill in the lock spot with aplomb. Tarrant then goes down, as a premier second rower in an Elimination Semi-Final. Godecke is called upon again to fill that spot, and does so with absolute professionalism and class. What a player. And one of the genuine nice guys.