Photo Credit : Barend van den Hoek
Saturday July 22 – Lakeside Recreation Reserve, Pakenham
Croydon Rangers (5th Place, 0-1) vs Monash Warriors (1st Place, 1-0)
Well the Warriors well and truly started the season on fire, and given they usually get better after 2 or 3 games, the signs are very ominous straight from the start. The running game of the Warriors continues to roll over opponents, and is only enhanced by an OL that rarely finishes a play less than 3 yards from the line of scrimmage. Opposing coaches need to ensure their plans start with “how the hell do we stop that OL”. The Warriors Def has again shown up with another strong performance, both against the pass and the run.
The Rangers on the other hand, started the season against the most obvious threat to the Warriors’ title reign. Coming against the Crusaders will always be a tough ask, but there is no doubt the Rangers struggle against the physical game style coming from the west. In saying that, the Rangers are the side that has caused Monash more than a few headaches in the past. There appears to be some improvement, but the OL will need to keep Stafford healthy if they want to seriously contend at the back end of the season.
Score prediction: Warriors 28 – Rangers 13
Saturday July 22 – Tom Flood Sports Centre, Bendigo
Melbourne Uni Royals (6th Place, 0-1) vs South Eastern Predators (4th Place, 0-1)
With both teams suffering first round losses, albeit narrowly in the case of the Preds, it will be who bounces back hardest that will determine if they can run the race in Div 1. Firstly, I continue to see much growth coming out the Predators, and if they can continue to build players out of their junior teams, they will become a formidable team in 3-4 years. The test for now will be to see which players have the resilience to understand that greater learning comes with losing against the best, rather than beating the worst.
On to the Royals, who now wear one of the better uniforms in GV now, well done GSA and the MUGC Comm. On the new look. Now to their game play, and again it may said I am biased, but I feel this team has the potential to be a top three team if they can click into gear. They have experienced senior talent mixed with the fruits of several years of strong junior performances, but these must start to work more effectively as one unit. With several players playing in new positions, and getting their feet wet against the Monash powerhouse, expect them to come out much stronger, especially offensively – expect many more power runs through the middle and more middle to deep passes.
Score Prediction: Royals 42 – Predators 8
Sunday July 23 – Henry Turner Reserve, Footscray
Western Crusaders (2nd Place, 1-0) vs Geelong Buccaneers (3rd Place, 1-0)
The Crusaders hosting the Buccs at home – such a cold, wet and windy day this was last year, and also a game that showed that the Cru were the new kings of the wet, taking the crown off Geelong in that game. Coach Wilson started the team exactly where they left off, getting better with every game, and the opposition teams should not expect this to momentum to stop anytime soon. The Cru are building their game from the trenches outward, and when looking for flaws in their game, it is only their momentary lacks of concentration that cause them any great concern. If these players stick to the game plan, ignore the taunts in the trenches and avoid the silly penalties, we will see them in the championship game again.
Geelong started the season with a come from behind win, the kind of wind that really helps strengthen a team in the process of a rebuild. Unfortunately for them, I am sure they would rather have followed this game up against just about any other club still left in Div 1. Much like the Preds, Geelong will show us how much resilience the Bayside Boys have over the course of the season, and with their future looking stronger off-field, they must ensure a focus on “building the club, then build the team”. As we get deeper into the season, teams like Geelong and the Predators will cause teams some headaches, but I feel that Round 2 will be a long drive home.
Score Prediction: Crusaders 30 – Buccaneers 6
I wish all the teams the best of luck for the weekend, but more importantly, I hope that all players remain healthy after giving their all for the brothers who suit up beside them.
- VIEW | Full Gridiron Victoria 2017 Schedule and Standings
- READ | Gridiron Victoria Division 2 Preview