NO FOOTBALL ON SUNDAY……. SAY WHAT??
Dragons yet to win a game and the Wolves, Falcons and newly formed “Cru II” with 2 wins already. Who would of thunk it?
Saturday 8th July – Tom Flood Sports Center, Bendigo – 10:30am
Western Crusaders II (2-0) V Ballarat Falcons (2-1)
Last time they met: DNP
The Western Crusaders who have been dubbed by some as “CRU 2” probably surprised a few with their second win of the season against a highly regarded, yet poorly performing Bendigo Dragons in Melton last Sunday. The 22-18 come from behind win has made the rest of the competition take notice. The fleet footed WR/RB #85 Flint Tuitavuki danced through and around the Dragons D while 10 year retiree RB #36 Nol Arabit looked like he hadn’t even left the game. The Cru lost QB #5 Nathan Tang early in the contest with a shoulder injury, replaced by veteran QB #30 Harry Jalland. The Cru found themselves down 10-0 early but managed to score a TD and 2 Point conversion before half time to make it 10-8. The third quarter didn’t bring much other than changes in possession and then the 4th quarter happened. A huge play near the Dragons own endzone that saw the Cru cause and recover a fumble. This led to a TD making it 10-14 in favour of the men in red. The Dragons replied later with a TD and 2 point conversion making it 18-14 with minutes left. Deep in their own half of the field the Dragons were forced to Punt, it was blocked and recovered by the Crusaders. The Cru scored again and converted the 2 which sealed the 2nd victory.
The boys from Ballarat had been flying high after victories over Melton and Monash to start their season. They came up against arguably the best defense of the Northern Raiders last Saturday. They struggled a little late in the game due to injuries to key players. WR #81 Eddie Carey was completely shut down by the Raiders DB’s having no impact on the game. Rookie QB # 20 James Stephens was solid once again looking like a veteran, using his feet and WR #18 Duncan McIntosh to help the Falcons score points. Once again the falcons pass defense was superb, limiting the Raiders in the air but unable to control them on the ground. An area I’m sure the coaches will be working on as the season progresses. The Raiders got off to a 10-0 start and it was a defensive struggle until the midway through the 3rd when the Falcons scored on a 20yd pass and then a Field Goal by #92 Paul Jones. With the score 10-9 in favour of the Raiders and despite DL #69 Dave “Bam Bam” Parker having a huge day, the Raiders managed to run out (Pun Intended) winners 23-9.
The Crusaders look to be getting more numbers on the sideline each week while the Falcons hope to see more improvement to an already impressive offense. After seeing both team play first hand, I’m leaning towards a Falcons victory in this battle in Bendigo.
Prediction: Crusaders 20 – Falcons 24
Saturday 8th July – Tom Flood Sports Center Bendigo – 2:00pm
Bendigo Dragons (0-3) V CCU (0-2)
Last time they met: Dragons 24 – CCU 30
Bendigo Dragons are 0-3……that’s not a typo. After QB #33 Thomas Prince was benched, I mean he decided to step aside, so that QB #16 Lucas Elliston could lead the team in a position he is very familiar with. After getting off to 10 point lead the Dragons looked like they would finally get the first W for 2017 but it was too early to even think about that. Elliston was replaced due to injury in the second half by RB #11 Harrison Luke. Luke performed well especially when he got to use his legs. Unfortunately for the Dragons, penalties and mistakes cost them a victory.
CCU had the bye last week. A shell of their former selves, they just want to see improvements on a weekly basis.
A home game for the Dragons should see them finally get a win on the board and restore order to Division 2. It won’t be a white wash but the Dragons will be too strong defensively for the “The U” in the battle of the defeated.
Prediction – Dragons 28 – CCU 16
Saturday 8th July – DR Atkinson Reserve, Reservoir – 1:00pm
Northern Raiders (3-0) V Monash Barbarians (0-2)
Last time they met: Raiders – Barbarians (GV does not have a result in their website… strange)
The Northern Raiders are off to a dream start, it sure beats drawing almost every game like last year. It was their running game that excelled this week with over 200yds rushing and only 107yds passing. RB #24 Ben Norton (“The Weapon” I’m calling him) scored another 3TD’s, 2 rushing and 1 receiving. He was supported by RB #23 Daniel Strangis who had 92 yds on the ground. Defensively the Raiders dominated with LB #7 Vic Utumapu all over the field with 8 tackles, forced fumble and a INT. First gamer DB #13 Will McGann was also dominant, swatting away virtually anything that came his way.
Monash Barbarians look impressive from the sideline but unfortunately that doesn’t transpire into their game plan. You do have to factor into it that 2/3 of their roster are Rookies. The first half the Barbarians took it up to the Wolves, limiting their running game and not allowing completed passes. They had the Wolves run under control, that was until they ran outside, keeping away from big DL #55 Sam Karag. A 0-0 half time score line quickly turned into a 21-0 defeat after a muffed Punt return for a Safety kicked off the scoring for Melton. RB #22 Johnny Chen had a good opening run and #5 RB Damien Tse showed signs but the passing of the Barbarians was non existent, although QB #29 Richie Truong tried hard to get the offense going it wasn’t to be. Maybe OL #70 Ben Taylor was blocking his view of the throwing lane? Defensively LB’s #44 Nathan Conquo and #50 Jordyn Melville were the best for the Barbs, helping stop the Wolves run in the first half.
I don’t see this game being pretty for the Barbarians unless they show massive improvement moving the ball. They have tall receivers that I’d like to see used more and the running game will flourish if this can happen. The Raiders smell blood and they will do their best to remain clear on top of the Division. The Barbarians may limit them on the ground but the Raiders might take advantage through the air.
Prediction: Raiders 26 – Barbarians 6
BYE = Wolves.
A shout out to the clubs who have freely given me information to make these articles worthwhile reading.
Becoming more of a Review than a Preview.