Rejuvenated Steelers aiming high
By Tate Spiteri
At the half way point of the 2017 NRL Victoria First Grade season last years Preliminary Finalists the Doveton Steelers sit 5th on the First Grade ladder, perhaps lower than most would have expected them to be.
But a sudden swing in form has the club optimistic of their chances for the remainder of the season with coach Shane Wisnesky saying there is no reason his side can’t play in the Grand Final.
“That’s where we want to be, playing in Grand Finals”
“Win this week and we’re back in the top 4 where we need to be” he said.
The Steelers started off their season with an emphatic 46-8 win over the North West Wolves as well as an ISC 9s victory over the Northern Thunder at AAMI Park but Shane Wisnesky’s men then fell away badly losing 4 of their next 5 matches.
In those losses included a 42-point belting at the hands of Werribee and at that point the Grand Final looked a very distant goal.
But the Steelers coach this week revealed his side was crippled with injuries those early weeks and are only just now starting to get their best team back on the park.
“After that first game (against the Wolves) we ended up with 8 or 9 out of our First Grade side, which didn’t help at all” Wisnesky said.
And the Steelers’ last two performances have backed up the belief that they are now in much better shape.
First they went down to Casey by just 10 points in an exciting 38-28 loss, which was comfortably the best performance anyone has put in against the Warriors this season in terms of points scored and the final margin.
Then last week the Steelers put the foot down hammering the Altona Roosters 50-22 in a display that signalled their return to form.
Esoto Mulipola scored two tries to make it 4 in the last 3 weeks while Zephaniah Kolkota Sao-Mafiti also crossed the line twice. Sao-Mafiti is a player Shane Wisnesky desperately needs fit and playing having scored 4 tries from the 3 games he’s played in this year.
Doveton were also boosted last week by the inclusion of Brandon Manese who made his Steelers debut, Manese has returned to the NRL Victoria after a stint in the Q Cup with the CQ Capras.
Coach Shane Wisneskey was extremely complimentary of the clubs star midseason recruit.
“He’s a very good player, He played last week and was very impressive”
“He’s originally from Casey, maybe he wanted a bit of a change I’m not sure but he’s got plenty of mates at Doveton and hopefully he stays on board with us”
Wisnesky also pointed out youngsters Trent Toelau and Mali Lepou who have spent the last 5 weeks in the team up from the U18s and U20s as impressive.
“They’ve come in and been a great boost to our side,” he added.
Doveton will go in strong favourites to continue their run of form when they meet the North West Wolves in the Ray Ertl Memorial Cup match.
In other games, Sunbury and the Northern Thunder will clash in an important match where the loser will likely make way for the Steelers in the top 4.
The Tigers and Thunder played out a 30-28 thriller when they met earlier in the year and this weeks clash promises to be equally as close.
In the rounds other two matches Werribee will be out to rectify their first loss for the season when they host the Waverley Oakleigh Panthers while Altona will need to upset Casey if they are to stay in touch with the competitions top 4.
Doveton by 16
Sunbury by 2
Werribee by 10
Casey by 16