Welcome to The Goose Step.
Week to week, we will provide a wrap up of Rugby League in Western Australia along with a quick preview of the week coming up!
All out of the mind of yours truely, so please be kind in your reviews and on social media!
This week’s feature goose step… Billy Judge from the South Perth Lions again!
Just in case you thought he is sending in photos of himself, he isn’t.
Send in photos of your favourite stepper’s to firstname.lastname@example.org to be our feature player.
This week, as their is no review, we will be doing a preview, along with a write up of where our Premiership competition stands at this moment. I know we have people interested in the lower grades as well, that will follow in a separate article tomorrow.
Friday Night – All Flags Signs & Banners Women’s Premiership
In our Cash Converters Game Of The Round, down at The Kwinana Local Stadium, the Rockingham Sharks will be looking to take their good form into their game against the embattled Kalamunda Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will be relying on the strength of their forward pack to grab their first win, while the Sharks will hope their defensive steel shows up from the first minute this week, to carry them to victory. Who will be the recipient of the Ilpasto Inglewood player of the game?
Also in Port Kennedy, the rejuvenated South Perth Lions will look to maintain their momentum as they play a grudge match against the Willagee Bears. The Lions and Bears actually started the season off as a combined side, but split quickly after round 1, and now with the battle lines drawn it will be a fiery affair.
And up the other end of town, the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs will play after an extended break, looking to snap back into form, against the young energy of the North Beach Sea Eagles. The Sea Eagles, with a new influx of players, will fancy themselves against the reigning premiers, in what should be a very fast and free flowing game.
Saturday – Fuel to Go & Play Premiership
The Consolidated Energy Key Game this week sees the Joondalup Giants hosting the South Perth Lions at George Burnett Park. Now their previous games are a complete contrast. The Giants exploded out of the blocks and dismantled the Roosters in their previous game, leaving the game result in no doubt by half time. The Lions on the other hand, fell asleep for 15 minutes in the first half, and duly paid the price, with them basically conceding the game there and then. Throw the form book out the window, as the last few games between these sides have been extremely close. The battle of the hookers is where I believe it will be won. Taurean Sheehan is in vintage form since being moved to 9, with the professional Eddie Proudler always among the Lions best performers.
And the Rockingham Sharks will welcome the North Beach Sea Eagles to The Kwinana Local Stadium. North Beach, who are the suprise leaders after 8 games, come into this weekend full of confidence. I did see some instagram posts of the players channeling their inner WWE superstars during the week, so a focus on the the wrestle in the middle may be highlight. The Sharks on the other hand, come off a bye and a tough loss to the Lions. But they are not to be underestimated, as they have fought hard in their contests, on the back of a rejuvenated Benjamin Bolth and some tough performances from young guns Jonathon Mato and new recruit Gethin Thomas. Beach welcome back Adam Roy for this one, and will be close to full strength. Will they keep rolling?
FUEL TO GO & PLAY PREMIERSHIP – MID SEASON REVIEW
With no review of last week’s games, lets take a look at where our premiership competition stands so far.
1st – North Beach Sea Eagles – 11 Points
Well it wasn’t long ago that they were anchored to the bottom of the ladder. 2020 was definitely a season to forget for the boys from the northern beaches. But, in line with their 70th year celebrations, Beach find themselves the surprise leaders after 8 round. Welcoming back stalwarts Adam Roy, Ben Taylor, along with recent grand final players in Cairo Takarangi, Ben Lindegaard and Josh Benjamin, their side is now oozing class. With the combination of this experience to go along with youngsters in Bowman Stein and Tye Saus, they have a great balanced side. But their biggest pickup might be off field, with club great and former Ken Allen medallist Craig Phillis being brought on board as an assistant. Coach Dave Wallis has got the team rolling nicely, can they keep improving now?
Strength – Depth. The Sea Eagles have tonnes of it. Their Reserve Grade side could play in the Premiership competition and they boast some impressive players in Val Murphy and their U18s squad. So while injury and suspension could cripple other sides, the Sea Eagles would simple be next man up policy.
Potential Flaw – Composure. Now this has been somewhat mitigated, with the reintroduction of Cairo Takarangi into the halves, but they still seem to tighten up at crucial parts of games. Even in a game well in hand against the Lions, they were unable to put their foot on the throat of their opponent in the second half. Expect this to improve dramatically with a settled spine.
Key Player – Josh Benjamin – The evergreen backrower is a crucial piece of the puzzle for the Sea Eagles. A deadly ball runner, with great footwork and strength, when something happens it is usually his hand prints all over it. His combination with left side players De Vorms and Taylor looks to be incredibly dangerous.
Impressive Youngster – Kobi Aiesi – The young hooker has been an absolute standout this year. A revelation, whether starting or off the bench, his lightning ball delivery and game awareness has added another dimension to the Sea Eagles. A better defender than he looks, he continues to improve and shine in the seniors.
2nd – South Perth Lions – 11 Points
Whether we have 100 teams in the local competition, or three, the Lions continually to be close to the yardstick of the competition. Year after year, they continue to be one of the most well drilled teams in the competition, proving the old adage, that you must actually beat the Lions. They won’t go out of their way to lose. Led by coach Daniel Green, who looks younger every time I see him, when at full strength they boast one of the most formidable back row combinations in the competition with Mason Hiko and Jarrad Smith. With Shane Gillham also back in the fold, they have the backrow depth, but depend highly on stalwart Tim Noble and the vastly improved Blair Wilson as their main bookends. New recruit Kingston Puru looks a likely type, but is still finding his way in the Lions structure.
Strength – Fitness – To the eye, the Lions are the fittest side in the competition. With the ability to stay in the game longer than anyone else, they are never truly out of the contest, and seem to win second halves with ease. Their starts continue to be a bit of a worry, but if they fix that up, they will be incredibly hard to put away. At the death, with the game on the line, I wouldn’t be betting against them.
Potential Flaw – Outside Backs – They have lost some serious artillery in this department. Tyson Lewis, Kade McDonald and Tamba Lebbie in particular have been big losses along with Connor Hudson back at the sharks. Its left to part timers Joey Halpin, Ben Grace and youngster Tere Cameron-Ramea to fill the gaps, which they are doing admirably. But can they continue to improve to push the Lions to victory?
Key Player – Tim Noble – The rugged prop is the new leader of this young forward pack. While not a new role, it has been emphasised this year with their front row stocks a bit thin. Strong and aggressive, he possesses a deft offload and can play big minutes for the Lions, while also able to sniff out a try or two. A vocal leader, the Lions will need him to goto another level in 2021.
Impressive Youngster – Luke-David Wells-Talamavaio – While not exactly new, having played some games last season, Luke is still finding his feet. But with mixing performances, a lot rests on the young play makers shoulders. With a new halves pairing in himself and Nick Holliday for the Lions, he needs to continue to improve for the Lions to be there at the end this year. Possessing huge amounts of ability, the stage is set for him to make a big impression this year.
3rd – Fremantle Roosters – 10 Points
The Fremantle Roosters are still the most enigmatic team in the competition. With the ability to put a team to the sword quickly, they play an expansive brand of football that is impressive to watch and difficult to defend when at its best. Led by the incredible Delane Edwards, who continues to tell me he has one more year left in him, they are a difficult assignment from week to week. And as always, while they are not firing at full cylinders at the moment, the Roosters are the kings of turning it on when it matters. Competitions aren’t won in June, and they will continue to build to the finals where they will hope to be full strength. With impressive bookends Mitchell Kerr and the scariest player in the competition in Dave Wilson leading the side, they won’t die wondering this year.
Strength – Point Scoring – Fremantle, more than anyone, can turn the screws in an instant. With strike all over the field, and the ability to turn half chances into tries, they have no fear of “playing footy”. With eyes up plays, ball spreading structure and their ability to turn everything into a contest, they are extremely hard to keep scoreless. And with their seemingly endless supply of kickers who can do perfect spiral bombs, they are a menace when having to defuse last tackle kicks.
Potential Flaw – Depth/FIFO – The Roosters are a bit light on troops this season. And with the FIFO roster affecting all clubs, when the last names being affected include Crotty, Peneha and Taomia, you start to realise the quality of players the Roosters are missing out on from game to game. Watch them improve out of sight when they have everyone back on deck for the finals.
Key Player – Paora Kemp – A new recruit, and a hard name to pronounce for some people, Paora has taken to the Roosters structure like a duck to water. Comfortable at fullback or in the halves, he will need to take on more responsibility as the season goes on, especially with him and Delane swapping roles mid game at some stages. Watch his late footwork at the line, with an enviable goose step, that I hope to get a photo of for this article one day.
Impressive Youngster – Nick Riggs – A well known commodity in the West Australian games, some people consider the youngster to be the best center in the game. Strong. Fast. Fit. Loves the tough stuff. And a fantastic defender. He has some serious admirers around the competition. With his trademark running style, he will be a key factor in the Roosters finals push this year. A nice guy off the field, he switches gears when the siren goes and is a great competitor.
4th – Joondalup Giants – 8 Points
The defending champions have come into the season on a bit of a lull. Winning only 2 of their first 6 games, they haven’t been far of the mark, with an average losing margin of four. Yes your read correctly. One try has separated their losses and they will fancy themselves moving into the second half of the season. Good teams build, and if their breakout win against the Roosters was any indication, they are continuing to build. With wily old coach John Harbin in control, they are having to make up for the loss of Ken Allen Medallist Kainoa Gudgeon, and finally might be finding their groove without the dominant fullback. With Taurean Sheehan in vintage form, and Gus Marshall in great touch with his kicking game, the Giants will give themselves every chance.
Strength – Defence. Now before you tear my review apart, yes they have let in the same amount of points as the Lions team. But its the way teams score on the Giants, which leads them to be the best defensive side. There are no easy tries. Usually conceding tries off kicks or their own mistakes, the Giants defensive line is extremely formidable, especially on their own line. And in tight competitions, “Premierships are won on defence”is an old idiom.
Potential Flaw – Offence. Again if you look at their points, its easy to say this is wrong. But taking out the 44 point explosion against the Roosters, the Giants have been a bit clunky so far this year. With changes to their spine obviously not helping, they will be looking to resolve this issue. Again, alot of coaches believe your attack is the last thing you need to get right, as your team warms into the season, and it may be coming right after all.
Key Player – Luke Turner – “Shreddah” is close to the best outside back in the competition and his value to the Giants is immense. Brian To’o like, he is an absolute menace to tackle. Pin-balling out of defenders, using his speed, power and fend to good effect, he is looking to score from anywhere on the field. Loves work from his own end, and good under the high ball, he only needs half a chance to turn nothing into something.
Impressive Youngster – Brad Sparrow – The young back-rower has stepped into the big shoes left by the departing Daniel Sneddon, and he has flourished this season. Fully fit and firing, he only has one gear. Tough and aggressive, his damaging ball running, and tenacious defending add to his incredible attitude when approaching the game.
5th – Rockingham Sharks – 8 Points
Don’t go to sleep on the Sharks at this point. With their backs against the wall this year, they are in a similar spot to last year when most of the competition was writing them off, and then they stormed home to fall agonizingly short of a grand final win. But again, it does look tough. Losing form lock Emmerson Whittel, boom centre Quintin Fui and half Sean Scott before the season started, they have had injury and suspension worries. Take into account the retirements of club stalwarts Reece Potter and Peter Worth. It begs the question of can they repeat their miracle run? But the sharks have persevered with the Pera brothers coming to town, along with the return of Connor Hudson into the fold, they also managed to lure young gun Gethin Thomas down the freeway. Hopefully with gun fullback Tyler Hunt due back at any stage, the Sharks will back themselves for a late finish.
Strength – Front Row – Now while a lot of teams are struggling to find reliable bookends, the sharks stocks are admirable. Led by the dependable Andrew Jeffrey at hooker, Wilson-Wylie, Rangiuia and the returning Bolth are a very formidable unit. Add in the new Sam Pera, and thats some serious power and class that the sharks are boasting in the forward pack. With these power players up front they won’t lack chances to set a platform at any stage.
Potential Flaw – Halves – At this stage missing both grand final halves, they are still testing combinations. And while Wood and Gilchrist have filled in admirably, one was a winger, and the other a lock/hooker. So it begs the question, can you get away without having a dominant halfback in a premiership competition. They are trying hard and learning every day, but in such a crucial spot it could be their undoing, especially when it all goes on the line late in the season.
Key Player – Julian Wilson-Wylie – Julz last year was regarded by his peers as the premier front rower in the competition. And is the key to how the Sharks will fare in 2021. Incredible tough and hard to tackle, his team mates nickname for him is “The Bus”. Capable of busting tackles anywhere on the field, in defence, players need to avoid him or could wake up looking at the sky.
Impressive Youngster – Jonathon Mato – A natural talent, Jono could potentially be anything. Smart, strong and quick, he has all the skills of one who was made for our great game. Able to kick and pass, he is comfortable in any position on the field from fullback to front row. A true footballer, the skys the limit for this player, and just begs the question. If he took a professional approach and was super fit… what could he do?