Much apologies for the lack of article last week, I know it was super disappointing to the dozens of people out there that read these previews (That’s one hell of a self-burn there Stafford, maybe ease up on yourself). But we are back this week, ready to lay down more of the semi-accurate, hit and miss predictions that you have come to know and love over the past 12 months or so. The 2016 season is kicking along quite nicely in Gridiron Victoria’s Division One, and this week’s slate promises to serve up some more of the top notch quality we’ve seen so far.
Saturday July 16 – Ranger Field, Croydon – 10:30am
- Monash Warriors (1st Place, 4-0) vs South Eastern Predators (5th Place, 1-2)
- Last Time: Week 14, 2015: Warriors 51, Predators 7
The Warriors have run the table so far and look about as comfortable as a pillowy hammock in the summertime, while the South Eastern lads come into the last phase of a tough stretch against 2015’s top three, with back-to-back defeats at the hands of Croydon and Geelong fresh in the rear view mirror.
The balance in this Monash team right now is quite the thing to see. While they are getting the usual output from their star players, it hasn’t been anything too fancy. They continue to rack up wins with a professional, no fuss approach, and in a lot of ways are reminiscent of how the New England Patriots go about their business.
The Predators are struggling after their big opening win against Berwick, and a rib injury to their starting quarterback Sir Johnson has certainly dimmed the potency of their offence. I can’t see their defence doing enough to cover for their lack of a genuine scoring threat, and the Warriors should win comfortably (much like the afore-mentioned hammock) and cruise into their 2015 VicBowl rematch with Croydon the following week at 5-0.
Stafford’s “I’m buying a hammock this weekend” Prediction: Warriors 40, Predators 8
Saturday July 2 – Ranger Field, Croydon – 2pm
- Croydon Rangers (4th Place, 2-1) vs Geelong Buccaneers (3rd Place, 2-2)
- Last Time: 2015 Semi-Final: Rangers 21, Buccaneers 20
The Rangers are coming off of the bye, preceded by a dominating 38-0 victory over the South Eastern Predators in Week 3. The Buccaneers have managed to square the ledger at .500 after a gritty win last week despite being hindered by injuries to some of their key personnel, most notably all-stars Layke Rossiello and Daniel Tinitali.
After giving up 48 points in their home opener, the much improved Croydon defence has managed to secure back-to-back shutouts in their last two contests, with the return of Defensive stars Tyson Burgess and Cody Austin from season ending knee injuries in 2015 being a key reason for the resurgence. Geelong has also lent on the play of their defence so far this season to keep things afloat, and with the expected return of Rossiello to the line-up this week should be an even stronger outfit.
Again, I refuse to predict the outcome of this highly anticipated contest between fierce rivals, other than to say that I am, and forever will be, the sneakiest QB in all of the land. And Noonan will just have to live with that.
Stafford’s “Noonan be Trippin’ Dawg” Prediction: Rangers ??, Buccaneers ??
Sunday July 17 – Royal Park, Parkville – 2pm
- Melbourne Uni Royals (6th Place, 1-2) vs Western Crusaders (2nd Place, 2-1)
- Last Time: Week 11, 2015: Royals 26, Crusaders 20
I’m almost willing to go out on a limb here and make this a sneaky Game of the Week chance. From the outside looking in there appears to be a nice little rivalry developing between these two teams, based on their close proximity to each other and the Melbourne Uni lads recording arguably their most famous victory against the Crusaders the last time they met in 2015.
The Crusaders play their football on both offense and defence at a break neck speed that is unsettling and uncomfortable for any opponent they face. Despite a close loss to Monash last weekend, their approach to 2016 so far reeks of a team that feels they have unfinished VicBowl business. The Royals broke their maiden last week against Berwick and are a constantly improving outfit on the upswing. Blessed with some young physical talent and experienced new recruits, they will be a tougher team to play with each week that passes.
Here’s hoping for a tight contest that only enhances the reputation of this emerging rivalry.
Stafford’s “Game of the Week” Prediction: Crusaders 28, Royals 18
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 Week 4 Power Rankings