I know what you’re thinking, Oz American Football fans: Where am I supposed to get my gridiron kicks now that the NGL has gone under? There there, don’t cry. Rub some dirt on those tears and let Week 8 of the awesome (and actually happening) 2016 Division 1 Gridiron Victoria season take you into its warm bosom, with just the type of exciting football action needed to chase those blues away. Actually, maybe keep dirt away from your tear ducts. Ill-advised at best. Just like the NGL!
Saturday August 6 – The Cove, Corio – 2pm
Geelong Buccaneers (4th Place, 3-3) vs Berwick Miners (Last Place, 0-6)
Last Time: Week 1, 2016: Buccaneers 47, Miners 0
Geelong had probably their best win of the year last weekend, overcoming an early 14 point deficit to defeat the dangerous Melbourne Uni Royals. The Miners fell to their sixth straight loss (five of which have been by 50+ points) at the hands of league leaders Croydon to round out a tough first half of the season.
Head Coach Brendan Bowe has gotten the Buccaneers back on track recently, with a return to the power run-based, multiple back sets that were featured heavily in Geelong’s last championship season in 2011. This type of sledgehammer attack will be too much for the overwhelmed Berwick defence, many of whom are forced to play both ways. I expect another big game from runningback Daniel Barnett, and for him to appear for a third time this season in the GV Players of the Week.
The Miners have shown great heart and glimpses of improvement during the season, but a tired defence against a physical run first team is not an equation that spells success for them this week.
Stafford’s “Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel” Prediction: Buccaneers 50, Miners 0
Saturday August 6 – “Arena Parade Arena”, Officer – 3pm
Monash Warriors (2nd Place, 5-1) vs Melbourne Uni Royals (5th Place, 3-3)
Last Time: Week 1, 2016: Warriors 50, Royals 28
The Warriors come into this one fresh off of the bye, with an equal first win-loss record and a renewed sense of purpose going into the second half of the season. The Royals sit just outside the top four (on head to head difference only), and are a much improved outfit compared to the corresponding clash in Week 1.
The Melbourne Uni offence has been a different beast with Alex “Sticks” Franklin under centre. He has led them to wins over the Crusaders and Predators, providing a more consistent passing attack to compliment the run provided by Tokoa Tangatakino. For Monash, Luke Jackson is having another brilliant year in the Warrior backfield, while Taylor Berrington’s outstanding play at safety has anchored the steady defence, featuring some huge highlight reel hits over the middle.
Being The Diplomat that I am this is very rare, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’m tipping an upset in this game. If the Royals can get their offence going early they could steal a win from the league’s perennial powerhouse.
Stafford’s “Am I out of my mind?” Prediction: Royals 22, Warriors 20
Sunday August 7 – Syd Pargeter Reserve, Endeavour Hills – 2pm
Western Crusaders (3rd Place, 4-2) vs Croydon Rangers (1st Place, 5-1)
Last Time: Week 1, 2016: Crusaders 48, Rangers 27
The Crusaders enjoyed another explosive win on Saturday, taking out the Beasts from the South East down in Corio, while Croydon got the job done in Endeavour Hills against the Miners to be on top of the GV regular season ladder for the first time since 2011 (which gives you an idea of how unimportant that is).
The Crusaders have won the last 3 contests with Croydon, and have proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Green Machine in recent years, regardless of ladder position. Free from his NGL duties, Tyson Garnham will now be available for the rest of 2016, which provides a massive boost to the VicBowl chances of the Red & White, as well as in this game.
This game will come down to whoever gets to play it on their terms. If the big receivers for the Rangers can get loose in the Cru secondary, they should score enough points to win, with their defence keen to atone for allowing 48 points in Week One. If the All-Star defensive line for the Crusaders gain the upper hand, it will be a long day for the Croydon backfield.
Stafford’s “Give us your thoughts on the NGL” Prediction: Crusaders ??, Rangers ??
Happy Football this week everybody, hope you enjoy the games at all venues.