NRL Victoria First Grade Finals Preview
By Matt Hughes (NRL Vic Media)
The NRL Victoria Women’s and Men’s First Grade finals kick off this Saturday after the regular season concluded last week.
In the men’s major semi-final, minor premiers and this year’s surprise packets Truganina Rabbitohs, do battle with Werribee Bears at Clearwood Drive Reserve. Last year’s champions the Bears will go into the match feeling fresh after a bye last week, while the Rabbitohs are coming off a good win against North West Wolves.
The Rabbitohs only loss of the year has come against third-placed Altona, while they have won both their previous clashes with the Bears. For the Bears to win and advance to the grand-final, competition leading try scorers Dylan Vea Te Whare and Niko Patelesio will need to have a major impact. Similarly, for the Rabbitohs Francis David Toetu and James Aspden look to be keys to their side winning.
Rabbitohs Coach Frank Munipola is looking forward to a “physical game”.
“We’re looking good,” he said.
“They (Werribee) will come to play.”
Munipola knows that although his side finished on top of the ladder it is a “fresh competition” come Saturday.
“The Bears have won the last three major semi-finals,” he said.
“We expect them to be at full strength.
Bears’ Coach Curtly Tuala is confident that his side can get the job done.
“We’re looking sharp,” he said.
“We’ve won the last three in a row and this is where our experience comes into play.”
Tuala knows it won’t be easy and expects Truganina’s “patience, pressure and experience” to be a challenge.
In the men’s minor semi-final third-placed Altona take on fourth-placed North West Wolves at Bruce Comben Reserve. The Roosters are in form after a convincing win against the Panthers last week, while the Wolves will be looking to avenge a tough loss against the Rabbitohs.
Both sides are a win apiece in their previous matches against each other, so a tight contest should be expected.
The women’s major semi-final also features Werribee (Black) and Truganina at Clearwood Drive Reserve. Werribee claimed the minor premiership because of its superior point differential, after both sides finished the season on 33 points.
The sides will be extremely tough to separate on Saturday after their three previous contests this year resulted in one win, one loss and a draw for both teams.
Werribee Coach Chris Kilgarriff said his side is “ready to go”, ahead of the game.
“We’ve had a good season,” he said.
“They (Truganina) will come out firing,” he said.
Kilgarriff named Grace Tooala as a player to watch.
In the women’s minor semi-final third-placed Northern Thunder play fourth-placed Altona Roosters at Bruce Comben Reserve. Similar to the major semi, both teams finished the season on the same amount of points (18).
The Thunder will go in confident after they won the sides’ round 13 clash 28 to 10. The Wolves’ defence has conceded around 100 points less than the Roosters this season, meaning Altona will have to be at their attacking best if they are to advance.
Both women’s matches begin at 2.00pm, while the men’s start at 3.20pm.