CHRL Preview: Round 9
Every year at around this time in the Central Highlands competition, we look at the competition ladder and say how close the competition is, but after eight rounds … it is as close as it gets!
Four competition points separate 1st from 7th with Dysart only three points behind that so every win is crucial, as is for and against points in the case of a tie at the end of the season.
ROUND 9 FIXTURES
Clermont Bears v Bluff Rabbitohs
7pm Friday, June 23
The Friday night timeslot should bring a crowd to Clermont to witness these two arch-rivals face off.
Clermont had the week off last weekend with the game against Dysart to be played at Country Week on July 22.
For Bluff, they celebrated a 38-26 win over the ladder-leading Springsure Mountain Men to return to the winner’s circle.
If the Rabbitohs can make their biggest road trip of the year with a full side; including Dane Heron, Peter McLaughlin and Chris Conway, they are certainly on their way to making it two from two against Clermont this year.
If the Bears can field a team close to full strength including a dominant forward pack, they should have enough to topple the Rabbitohs at home if they can shut the gate early.
On the tipping card this week, you’d have to circle Clermont just because they are at home and had a week off to rest any niggling injuries.
Clermont Bears Ladies v Emerald Tigers Ladies
5.30pm Saturday, June 24
Norm Blanche Oval Middlemount
Middlemount couldn’t get a better gift to host a top of the table clash to help promote and grow the women’s game in the region.
As both teams face off in neutral territory, the early mail for either team is that both will be short due to the school holidays commencing. Most notably missing this week is Elle Waters for Clermont and Bonnie Walsh for Tigers.
Clermont, like their men, had the week off last week due to the Country Week game later in the year and haven’t really been tested since Round 1 against the defending premiers.
After the Tigers’ Round 1 loss to Clermont, they haven’t dropped a game and sit nicely on the top of the ladder with a four-point buffer.
With the large number of outs for Clermont, the Tigers will start favourites but Clermont aren’t going to give up without a fight.
Middlemount Panthers v Emerald Tigers
Emerald Star Hotel Match of the Round
7pm Saturday, June 24
Norm Blanche Oval Middlemount
Can the Panthers upset the defending premiers and get one back on them on home soil?
One thing is for sure, every Panther will be sure to leave nothing on the field as they play in honour of their late, great mate and ‘brother’, Nathan “Shorty” Moffatt.
Middlemount have been up and down in recent weeks but got back to what they do best last week, getting a 44-28 win over the Cowboys.
The Tigers have had similar form in recent weeks and also are coming into this match following a win but are missing some key personnel in the match this weekend.
Despite this, Gavin Power can be dangerous at fullback and Ryley Parter is playing out of his skin at the moment and has been named at starting hooker for this weekend’s clash.
The home side have named a strong team to line-up with the handy inclusions of Alex Sainsbury and Sam Creedon for this week’s crucial match.
It’s also great to see a father and son combination in Panthers colours this season, with Jason Randell playing alongside his son Jonas this year.
Middlemount should be too strong at home, with plenty of emotion in this game playing in honour of a great mate in Shorty, who was tragically lost too soon.
Springsure Mountain Men v Dysart Bulls
7pm Saturday, June 24
Bauhinia Park Springsure
Springsure and Dysart do battle in the foot of the mountains in a 1v8 ‘David v Goliath’ battle.
The late mail is the Mountain Men have a number of players unavailable due to the Alpha Races this weekend. This may make it hard for the ladder leaders to get back in the winner’s circle after last weekend’s shock loss to Bluff.
Dysart had the week off last Saturday with their game being moved to Country Week on July 22, giving the Bulls a much-needed week to rest any niggling injuries.
The Bulls have built some momentum in the last few weeks, drawing with the Tigers in the Hixy Shield and then defeating Bluff convincingly the week after, 38-18.
Dysart-Springsure is the longest road trip in the Central Highlands but with the large number of players rumoured to be unavailable, it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Mountain Men.
It would be silly to tip against the Mountain Men at home but if the late mail is true, Dysart might be a chance of grabbing the two points, allowing them to make a late charge for the premiership, similar to Chautauqua in this year’s TJ Smith Stakes.
Emerald Cowgirls v Blackwater Crushettes
2.30pm Sunday, June 25
McIndoe Park Emerald
The Crushettes have got the wood convincingly over the Cowgirls in the first two encounters, winning 56-6 and 46-0 but the territorial advantage will be lost this time round for Blackwater with the match being played in Emerald.
To make matters worse for the Crushettes, last week’s game in Emerald against Tigers was a one-sided affair with the defending premiers shocking the hopefuls 44-10.
Despite a few lopsided score lines this year, the Cowgirls haven’t been too bad and are gaining momentum at the right time of the year.
The Cowgirls have a developing forward pack who can gain metres when needed and if Tayla Bean and Caitlyn Sheehan are back in the side, they will add the attacking flare and finesse to score points.
Mariah Storch should return for the Crushettes after training with the Queensland Women’s team last weekend and will add experience to the back row.
The last time these two sides met at McIndoe was in last year’s semi-final, when extra time was needed to split the two teams after a 20-20 draw at fulltime. It proves that even though the Crushettes will be favourites to win, anything is possible and if the Cowgirls put their minds to it, they have the potential to walk away with the two competition points.
Emerald Cowboys v Blackwater Crushers
4pm Sunday, June 25
McIndoe Park Emerald
A cracking game of footy on Sunday afternoon – it couldn’t get much better!
The Cowboys have been the dark horses this year, particularly in the last few weeks with two draws against Bluff and Clermont and then a big win against the Tigers in the Duroux.
Despite last week’s loss to Middlemount, they’re back at home this weekend and up against Blackwater, who have not won a game of footy away from home this year to date (excluding the Dysart forfeit).
It was probably the game that got away from the Crushers last weekend, narrowly defeated 24-22 after a late penalty goal was kicked by the Tigers in the dying minutes.
They are one of the only teams in the competition that has been able to keep a similar team each week but have been slow starters in a majority of their games, always having to start drumming up the points whilst being on the back foot.
This game will be a battle of the forwards with both teams fielding big packs this season. Particularly take note of Michael Malisi and Ali Hromadzic for the Cowboys and Rhys Giles and Aaron Price for the Crushers – those four boys have played excellent up front and will no doubt be the ones that will stand up when the crunch time comes.
Tipping a winner for this game is harder to pick than a broken nose.
On form, the Crushers would be favourites but the Cowboys have every chance of bagging another two competition points to further climb the ladder.
Thanks to Melissa Macklin Photography for her continued support.