What’s up football fans? Besides the number of enemies Noodle Arm Noonan is slowly making via his weekly Power Rankings (with The Councillor from the Greater City of Bendigo not far behind), Week 9 action in Gridiron Victoria is up. Up, up and away, like Superman fleeing the scene after getting Lois Lane pregnant. I have lost track of what I’m doing again. Week 9 Division 1 previews, that’s right….
Saturday August 13 – Namatjira Reserve, Clayton South – 2pm
South Eastern Predators (6th Place, 1-5) vs Berwick Miners (Last Place, 0-7)
Last Time: Week 2, 2016: Predators 58, Miners 0
The Predators are coming off a much needed bye as they look to get some numbers back (injured or otherwise) to ease the load on their two imports, Ty James and Cody Miller. Berwick had a much improved outing against Geelong last week compared to Week 1, despite having to resort to loan players.
While I don’t see this being the shellacking that it was in Week 2, the gap in class is still too great for me to give the Miners a legitimate chance of an upset (Even though based on ladder position this game would be their best opportunity). Miller, James, David Handakas and Grant Lamb provide far too much backfield depth for the Miners defence to handle in the run game, and should guide the Beasts from the South East to a relatively comfortable win.
Credit where credit is due though: Keep an eye out for Berwick’s Deckster Harawa if you’re at this game. A great talent who is playing some lights out ball over the past few weeks.
Stafford’s “The Stoush in Clayton South” Prediction: Predators 38, Miners 6
Sunday August 14 – Royal Park, Parkville – 10:30am
Monash Warriors (1st Place, 6-1) vs Geelong Buccaneers (4th Place, 4-3)
Last Time: Week 2, 2016: Warriors 22, Buccaneers 20
The Warriors squeaked by Melbourne Uni in a thriller last Saturday, while the Buccaneers got it done at Home against the Miners in predictable fashion. Games between these two heated rivals are always of the highest quality, and I expect this one to be no different.
Geelong’s running game matches up well against the Warrior defence, however Monash have savvy linebackers and safeties that can generate turnovers if they are careless with the ball (Taylor Berrington has been a force over the middle this season). Both offences are capable of passing but it is not their bread and butter, especially for the Warriors now that they have lost Alex Glover for the remainder of the year.
The GV All-Star runningback battle between Luke Jackson and Daniel Barnett should cancel themselves out, so the win will go to the team that can best generate offence elsewhere. Look for Travis de Niese to have a day out, with Dom Dearman returning to form in a close Warrior victory.
Stafford’s “It’s nice to be de Niese” Prediction: Warriors 24, Buccaneers 18
Sunday August 14 – Royal Park, Parkville – 2pm
Melbourne Uni Royals (5th Place, 3-4) vs Croydon Rangers (3rd Place, 5-2)
Last Time: Week 2, 2016: Rangers 14, Royals 0
The Royals almost proved this hack of a tipster right last week in a tight loss to the once again league leading Warriors. The Rangers were absolutely smashed off the park by a more committed, tougher and stronger opponent for the fourth consecutive time in the Western Crusaders.
The current Melbourne Uni offence is a completely different beast to the one that laid a goose egg in the corresponding encounter in Week 2. New QB Alex Franklin is growing with confidence each game that he is under centre, and with weapons like Jonny Warren and Prince Coleman around him in the passing game, they will be a stiff test for the Croydon defence.
The Rangers need to rally big time, and have to do it against the kind of team that they now clearly struggle against (big and physical in the trenches). The return of John Tanuvasa to their offence after a week off should help, but it is not the cure for all that ails them. This should be a highly entertaining football game, with a bit of everything for the casual fan who gets lost on their way to the Melbourne Zoo.
Stafford’s “I haven’t been to the Zoo since I was 5” Prediction: Royals ??, Rangers ??
Happy Football this week everybody, hope you enjoy the games at all venues.