It’s Week 7 and I’m in Heaven! Think that rhyme was garbage? How about “It’s Week 7 and my name is Evan!” Nope, that is utter garbage. And that’s not to disparage anyone with the name Evan. It’s a quality name. I’ve gone completely off track and once again the approach of writing the opening paragraph off of a random thought has worked against me. Thankfully for you, the reader, this disastrous opening paragraph now comes to a merciful close.
Saturday July 30 – The Cove, Corio – 10:30am
- South Eastern Predators (6th Place, 1-4) vs Western Crusaders (4th Place, 3-2)
- Last Time: Week 8, 2015: Crusaders 38, Predators 15
As expected, the Red & White rebounded and steamrolled an improved Miners team 36-0 in wintery conditions last week, while the Predators dropped their fourth straight in a disappointing loss to Melbourne Uni on Saturday.
Defence has been the order of the day out West in the last month, with a formidable unit led by defensive back Andrew James allowing only 28 points in their last four contests. This is in stark contrast to the offensive efforts of the Beasts from the South East, whom despite the solid play of runningback trio David Handakas, Grant Lamb and Cody Miller, have only mustered 3 touchdowns in their last four outings.
To use an old boxing term, styles make fights and the above statistics make a case for a big Crusader victory. The Preds need to find a passing game and in a hurry if they want to cause an upset in this one.
Stafford’s “I watched Tyson beat Spinks on TV” Prediction: Crusaders 20, Predators 6
Saturday July 30 – The Cove, Corio – 2pm
- Geelong Buccaneers (5th Place, 2-3) vs Melbourne Uni Royals (3rd Place, 3-2)
- Last Time: Week 12, 2015: Buccaneers 20, Royals 12
This game has huge playoff implications, despite the fact that we’re not even at the midway point of the season. A potential two game swing, a loss for the Buccs could leave them 2 games outside the top 4 and consolidate the Royals in 3rd place. Geelong will come in fresh off the bye, while Melbourne Uni are on a roll with 3 consecutive victories.
This game should be won or lost in the trenches, with both teams featuring talented rushing attacks led by Daniel Barnett and Tokoa Tangatakino respectively, tailor made to dominate in the Victorian winter. The X-Factor will be Royals wide receiver Jonny Warren, who is coming off of a 164 yard, 3 score performance last Saturday. With a new starter under centre in Alex Franklin throwing him the ball, he could be the key to a fourth straight win, provided he can get behind the experienced Geelong defence.
This should be the game of the week, with both teams desperate to bank another win and get one step closer to the playoffs in 2016.
Stafford’s “Mini Elimination Final” Prediction: Royals 20, Buccaneers 16
Sunday July 31 – Syd Pargeter Reserve, Endeavour Hills – 2pm
- Berwick Miners (Last Place, 0-5) vs Croydon Rangers (2nd Place, 4-1)
- Last Time: Week 12, 2015: Rangers 14, Miners 0
The Rangers are now firing on all cylinders and have not lost since their home opener against the Western Crusaders. Berwick dropped their fifth straight, but it was the first loss under 50 points and they looked much improved with the return of some key defensive players, including safety Abdul Kinock.
Rookie sensation John Tanuvasa continued his great play for Croydon on the weekend, scoring on a 57 yard reception on the first play from scrimmage. Coupled with “Megatron” Nate Rhoades and improving first year runner Ghok Yien Thiang, they form a dangerous three-headed monster that succeeds, despite carrying a goofy looking quarterback with a way out of his league girlfriend, on their shoulders.
The Miners have shown heart and spirit so far this season despite the big defeats. Led by club stalwarts Dale Anderson, Scott MacGuiness, Shane Lee and Lawrence Soso, they will fight until the bitter end, in an effort to make this season an important learning curve for the struggling club.
Stafford’s “Return to Endeavour Hills” Prediction: Miners ??, Rangers ??
Happy Football this week everybody, hope you enjoy the games at all venues.