Round 12 Preview
Round 12 First Grade Preview:
The First Grade returns this weekend after a week off, with teams looking to cement their spot in the Finals, with every game becoming more crucial.
Northern Thunder vs. Altona Roosters @ Seabrook Reserve
The Altona Roosters will be looking to keep in touch with the middle of the first grade as four teams will be vying effectively for the last two spots in finals. While being two games behind the Thunder, this matchup will ultimately shape both sides, either creating a buffer, or closing the gap.
The reverse fixture earlier in the year was a scoring feast for both sides, with Altona able to run out 52-32 victors.
Altona will look to turn it around after a nail-biting loss against the reigning premiers, Werribee, last game as their defensive pressure being the key. With the exception of one game, they have conceded more than 30 points in four of their last five.
The Thunder will look to solidify their spot behind Werribee and Casey, with defence being their downfall as well this season, ranking third last in the competition with point differential.
Michael Sega-Tulia will try to continue his strong form after his hat trick against North West. William Sila [Northern T] and Zev John [Altona Roosters] will be itching to add to their 10 tries for the year in their attempt to win the leading try scorer award.
Waverley Oakleigh Panthers vs. Sunbury Tigers @ Fregon Reserve
Sunbury has a chance to put pressure on the Northern Thunder and Doveton with a game against Waverley Panthers. The 5th placed Tigers, with an already strong point differential, will aim to improve on that as it could be a deciding point come the pointy end of the season.
Waverley has only notched up the one win, but will look to apply pressure for the full 80 minutes to possibly cause an upset. Scoring for the Panthers hasn’t been much of an issue as defending has been, with +40 scores being posted regularly against them.
In the last meeting in round 3, the Tigers were too strong, running out 44-28 victors. Tiaan Wilkins was the difference, scoring four tries to guide his team to victory. However, with a poor conversion game that day, the Panthers will take confidence in matching them to the final whistle.
Try-scoring leader, Samisoni Fusi will aim to add to his league leading 14 tries, while Wilkins and Antonio Sheck will also be dangerous for the Panthers defence.
North West Wolves vs. Casey Warriors @ AJ Davis Reserve
A tale of two different stories shapes between these two, with league leading Casey facing the bottom placed North West Wolves. The undefeated Warriors have made light of most teams this year, accounting for the Wolves earlier in the year, 94-0.
This year however has been much more about improvement and development for the Wolves rather than results, and that will continue through the remainder of the season.
Casey has been scoring at will, whilst their defence has been equally solid, having a league best point differential of 356, doubled that of next best Werribee’s.
Jeremy Broughton will be adding to his try scoring tally of 9, while Ethan Chatto will be the man to lead the Wolves in getting on the board after Casey’s defence.
Werribee Bears vs. Doveton Steelers @ Haines Drive Reserve
In a rematch of the past weekend’s ISC NRL VIC 9’s Semi-Final, Werribee will look to get the double over their opponents. The open space hurt the Steelers in the 9’s, and having a full field will hope to help their defence especially against the Pomale brothers.
Doveton are currently sitting 4th on the ladder, equal on points with 5th placed Sunbury. A win here will be crucial for the Steelers, as well as keeping their higher point differential intact with only a few games remaining.
The reverse fixture was a 48-6 demolition job for the Bears, with this fixture hinting at a tighter encounter.
Tevita Pomale is coming off a hat-trick in 9’s, as well as scoring six tries in the first grade this season. Troy Hanita-Paki is equal second behind Fusi from Sunbury in the try-scoring stakes with a chance to close the gap beckoning this weekend.
Tips for the weekend:
Northern Thunder vs. Altona Roosters – Altona by 8
Waverley Panthers vs. Sunbury Tigers – Sunbury by 12
North West Wolves vs Casey Warriors – Casey by 24
Werribee Bears vs. Doveton Steelers – Werribee by 20