Greetings friends! Do you wish to be as happy as I? Well then, all you’ve really got to do is head out and check out one or more of the following spirited bouts to be played out this weekend in Gridiron Victoria (head out, check out, bouts and played out? Who am I, Shooter McGavin?). There will be plenty of drama, plenty of action, maybe even some romance (I do like Daniel Noonan a lot, maybe too much). Regardless of what you’re looking for, I guarantee we’ve got the movie genre/football game for you.
Saturday July 2 – Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, Ballarat – 3pm
Geelong Buccaneers (3rd Place, 1-1) vs Western Crusaders (4th Place, 1-0)
Last Time: Week 14, 2015: Crusaders 21, Buccaneers 8
Both teams are coming off great starts to the new season and look like much improved outfits from their 2015 predecessors.
The Crusaders offset wishbone, led by Tyson Garnham, was too much for the defending champion Croydon Rangers to handle in Week One, and brought new meaning to the term “Speed Kills” with big play after big play. Along with a re-tooled Cover 2 defence brought in by new coach Craig Wilson, The Crusaders are a balanced team with winners all over the park.
The Buccaneers enjoyed a 47-0 rout of the Berwick Miners in their first hitout, following that up with a gallant 20-22 loss to the league leading Monash Warriors. The Buccaneers run game is back to its edgy best, led by GV all-stars Daniel Barnett and Chris Benyon, and the team as a whole looks to be back to the kind of form that saw it appear in 5 straight VicBowls from 2010 to 2014, with veteran leadership at every spot. On a side note, it was great to see Daniel Tinitali back in a Geelong uniform in Week One.
This will be the game of the round for mine, and will serve as the first of a double header in the Ballarat Gridiron Independence Weekend. If the Bucc’s stout defence can put the brakes on the Wishbone Express and force the Cru to throw, they’ll have a chance, but at this stage I’m taking the Cru in a close one.
Stafford’s “Independence Day 2 Sucks” Prediction: Crusaders 24, Buccaneers 22
Saturday July 2 – Ranger Field, Croydon – 2pm
Croydon Rangers (5th Place, 1-1) vs South Eastern Predators (2nd Place, 1-0)
Last Time: Week 11, 2015: Rangers 34, Predators 7
The Rangers got their title defence back into gear with a gritty and muddy 14-0 victory over the Monash University Royals at Namatjira last week, while the Predators unloaded a 58-0 drubbing on the hapless Miners in their first clash of the season after receiving the opening week bye.
The Rangers have been a pass first team throughout the first two contests, with new 2016 additions Nate Rhoades and John Tanuvasa proving to be reliable and exciting targets for some hack QB with tiny hands who wears the number 19, keeping the chains moving for the Green Machine. Combined with a defence that generated 4 turnovers against the Royals in a shutout, the Rangers remain one of the league’s best overall teams.
The Predators could not have gotten their 2016 campaign off to a better start, leading the Miners 50-0 at half-time before taking their foot off the gas late en route to a cruising win. Sir Johnson, the Predators new rifle-armed dual threat signal caller blew the game open early against the Miners, and looked a cut above the competition in his GV debut. Forming an effective one-two punch with running back David Handakas, the “Beasts from the South East” now possess an offence that can score from anywhere on the field.
This should be another tight contest, but as is tradition I offer no prediction on this one. Except that you might see me sprinting to the clubrooms in discomfort at a really inopportune time, as the timing of my game day bathroom breaks has been atrocious so far this season.
Stafford’s “I’ve got too many layers on to poop properly” Prediction: Rangers ??, Predators ??
Sunday July 3 – Rawling Field, Endeavour Hills – 2pm
Berwick Miners (Last Place, 0-2) vs Monash Warriors (1st Place, 2-0)
Last Time: Week 11, 2015: Warriors 20, Miners 0
The timing of this game could not be worse for the guys in orange and black. Dangerously undermanned and coming off two losses to the combined tune of 105-0, they now run into arguably the most talented and deep roster in Gridiron Victoria. The hard-nosed efforts of players such as Brad Ferguson, Daniel Walerian and Dale Anderson have not gone unnoticed, but there appears to be a deep chasm in class between this outfit and the rest of Division 1. The Miners are looking at a very long and very tough year, but if the players can stick it out some positive lessons can be learned along the way.
The Warriors on the other hand, have started the season with impressive victories against quality opposition in Melbourne Uni and Geelong, and boast an all-star cast on both offence and defence. The Dearman-Jackson led Monash offence will be looking to put this one away early, and I expect them to do so along similar lines to the first two games involving Berwick this season. This team boasts all the usual qualities of past Warrior groups, and will once again put on a great display of skilful football for all to see. Keep an eye out for Number 84 at Tight End/Slot Receiver, who has a penchant for pulling off some spectacular, acrobatic plays.
Stafford’s “Nothing to Joke About” Prediction: Warriors 60, Miners 0
Happy Football this week everybody, hope you enjoy the games at all venues. As was the case last year, Gridiron Downunder are looking for another correspondent to provide previews and reports on games taking place in the Division 2 season as well, so that we can get full coverage of our league here in Victoria. If you know of anybody, or are interested in doing it yourself, please contact us as soon as possible.
You can also check out the Gridiron Victoria week 2 results and standings