Young Roosters primed to take it up to reigning premiers
By Tate Spiteri
The red-hot Altona Roosters will travel to Haines Reserve this week full of confidence that they can spring the surprise of the season by defeating Werribee on their home turf this weekend.
The inform Roosters have scored less points than only Casey this campaign and are coming off thumping wins over the North West Wolves (68-12) and the previously undefeated Northern Thunder (52-32).
The only blemish in the Roosters’ 2017 campaign was their round one 28-6 loss to Casey at Casey Fields.
But that loss hardly worried President Brandon Taunoa who told NRL Victoria that the team that will run out this weekend is “completely different” to the one that was defeated by Casey in round 1.
And after close inspection Taunoa’s comments are extremely warranted.
In fact, last weeks Altona team that defeated the Northern Thunder included 8 players who were not available for the round 1 loss to Casey. Among those players were try scorers Paul Taufa and Tariki Bennion as well as Zev John, Nikau Williams, Sulio Fifita and Bailey Felise who were all on junior state duties at the time.
And the inclusion of the state players has been a clear focal point for the improving Roosters
“At the moment its our young players getting the job done, especially Nikau Williams and Hiliau Fifita” Taunoa added.
He described the luxury of having players like Fifita and the Victorian FOGs captain Nikau Williams at their disposal as definitely “good to have” but said they couldn’t be the players that they are without the guidance of captain Justin Bernard.
“He teaches those players the standards of First Grade” Taunoa said.
Interestingly, Bernard also missed the Roosters’ sole loss for the season against Casey as well as last weeks big win over Northern Thunder. His inclusion for this weeks match against the Bears could be an important factor.
The Roosters will need to be weary of the Bears’ Troy Hanita-Paki who scored 3 tries last weekend in their 48-6 rout of Doveton.
Tony Pritchard has also been prolific this year but it will be the Roosters ability to crack through Werribee’s stingy defence that will decide the game. The Bears have conceded just 14 points for the season and are yet to have double figures scored against them.
In other matches, The Sunbury Tigers will hope to be able to keep the momentum of their first win of the season going when they come up against Casey at Langama Park.
But Casey will be very confident that they can topple the Tigers given their undefeated start to the season that includes a massive 94-0 win over the North West Wolves last week and a victory against the Tigers themselves just 10 days ago at AAMI Park in an ISC 9s game.
The winless Waverley/Oakleigh also host the Doveton Steelers who will be desperate to bounce back from heavy losses to Werribee and the Northern Thunder respectively.
The Thunder and the struggling North West Wolves have the bye this weekend.
Bears by 2
Casey by 20
Doveton by 10