Photo Credit: Barend van den Hoek
Gridiron Victoria Division 1 – Week 8 (or Week 4 of Div 1)
I have omitted standings next to records, as they are useless in my eyes until each time has played the other, but that is just my opinion.
South Eastern Predators (0-3) vs. Western Crusaders (3-0)
What can we say about the Crusaders, other than to admire the way they keep going about their business. Their Offense is firing on all cylinders and they cruised past the Royals Def with an element of ease. I would refer to the official GV scores, but it appears as though the “TBC” got one hell of a workout last weekend. Back to reality, and it is a very clear one, the Crusaders have finally added some firepower to their Off that was probably their weaker link last year. The ability of their coaching staff to keep the players on track from start to finish should be the most intimidating factor about this unit. There is no longer just a reliance on physicality mixed in with a few good plays, this team will turn up and hand you a football lesson. At this stage, I would expect the Cru will be fine tuning their plays, and rotations of QBs, in preparation for next week’s game.
The Preds came up against a Monash team smarting from their loss the previous week, and their lack of experience and numbers was no match for the Warriors. Now the Preds must regroup after the big loss to face the Cru, with the final score potentially being worse than the previous week. The Preds just need to stick to strengthening the basics of football and minimising their error rate. While a finish at the bottom of Div 1 looms on the horizon, I am hopeful the future development of some juniors will help solidify this club. Only a massive downpour of rain is likely to stop an onslaught this week.
Prediction: Western Crusaders 56 – South Eastern Predators 0
Croydon Rangers (2-1) vs. Melbourne Uni Royals (1-2)
Clearly, the match of the round will see the Rangers host the Royals on Saturday. The Rangers have had 2 solid wins after their hammering in round 1, and they’ll look to add the Royals to the “non-contenders” list. The Rangers consistently do the job on both sides of the ball, with apparently only a perceived question mark hanging over their OL. We’ve seen Stafford lead the team on Off, and show signs of improvement from week to week. Running, passing or even the odd “Nah. I’ll keep this one and run myself” keeps those chains moving, but there still needs to be a focus on finishing off ALL the good drives before you get the rematch with the Cru. On the Def side of the ball, this is not the team you want to Hail Mary against. If your pass is loose, it will be coming back at you before you know it. The DL does a good job, with consistent support from the LBs to challenge any runs, so it appears the only question is the Ranger’s OL.
If there was a team to challenge the Ranger’s OL, this is not the team in my opinion. The DL of the Royals is not getting enough pressure on their opponents. Reliance on the LBs and Secondary appears to be growing with each game, so this needs to be the game where they step up or they will need to become used to being pushed around. The Royals Off did a good job against the Cru Def, and will likely feel this is a game where they have a little more time and space, but the cover speed of the Rangers will need to be countered. The Royals will play finals this year, unless they drop a game against the Buccs, but is the plan to be a legitimate threat, or continue to drop off the pace with each game of the season. The Royals do have some physicality to their unit and will likely need to ensure use of it to try and mirror the success the Cru had a similar style in Round 1.
Prediction: Croydon Rangers 24 – Melbourne Uni Royals 22
Geelong Buccaneers (1-2) vs. Monash Warriors (2-1)
Should there be a “Sledge Bowl” up for grabs in this game? Geelong did not get the Homecoming result that they may have wished for. Although, The Buccs could have seen the 2 TD loss as an “honourable loss”, while they continue to fight their way through this season. The Buccs continue to focus development in some of the newer/younger players while their older brigade plays out of position to ensure a better pathway for the future. Now the Buccs come up against their best friends, in the Monash Warriors. These were the “game of the week” for many years on end, but those days are likely in the rear view mirror now. Although teams heading down to Corio should be expecting this team to make improvements each week. This is a proud team that will be hurting from their likely exclusion from the finals this year, and I will be most interested to see if they are able to arrest this slide before the year’s end.
The Warriors disposed of the Preds in a most clinical fashion. The Def wouldn’t let their opponents score, and you could see a huge lift after a below par performance the previous week. Monash needs to use this game to test their physicality against a Buccs team that will not back down if they are too ready themselves for next week. This is not to say they should take Geelong lightly, but even higher rotations on Off should not hinder their push towards another strong result. The games against Geelong and the Preds are “refining” games at this stage, and Monash will need to prove they will be able to stand up to the Cru juggernaut coming next week. I am not expecting any “new tricks” to be shown this week, and poor weather could easily see this game get a much closer result than many might expect.
Prediction: Monash Warriors 42 – Geelong Buccaneers 14