Coming up to the business end of the season a different kind of arms race has been unleashed in the Fortescue Premier Grade with eight teams in the mix for finals.
With three rounds remaining, it’s impossible to say what the landscape for finals will look like with ten points separating the top four and Wanneroo in Eighth place.
Round ten has thrown a spanner into the works with plenty of movement across the standings that saw Palmyra overtake Wests into third while Joondalup fell to sixth place behind Nedlands.
One thing for certain is that tensions will be sky high as all teams look to finish their seasons off with a bang.
Cottesloe firmly remain the team to beat heading into finals and they made that clear on Saturday as they stormed past Perth Bayswater 72-0 at Harvey Field and will once again be looking to retain their place at the top of the ladder as they head down the Stirling Highway to tackle their old rivals Nedlands this Saturday.
No team has come close to dismantling the formidable ‘Gulls’ side who harbour a venomous attack that has left a trail of destruction in their wake and have put opposition teams to the sword with their relentless counterattack.
Steering the side at flyhalf, Caleb Young has been a prodigious points scorer with the boot and has acted as a smooth operator in the backline alongside his captain Tobias Hoskins.
Not limiting themselves to their backline, the Cottesloe forward pack has set the benchmark for their season, packing a powerful set piece that has laid a powerful foundation for their success.
Trailing closely behind Cottesloe is the impressive Associates outfit that have raised eyebrows with their strong performances in 2020.
Despite a tough loss to Cottesloe in round four, Damian Elton’s men have only lost one game and have established themselves as one of the front runners for the premiership.
They are currently the holders of the prized RugbyWA Cup which is a valuable edge to have over the other teams heading into the last stretch of the season.
One of the major strengths evident at the ‘Soaks’ club is their unbelievable chemistry between positions, building the way for a sublime display of attacking rugby.
However, their mental fortitude will be put to the test on Saturday as they pay a visit to the ‘Pig Pen’ to play West’s Scarborough in a game that will have major implications on the shape of the top four.
Associates lost both their fixtures to the ‘Boars’ in 2019 and will be hoping for some sweet revenge as they strive to leave breathing space for themselves in second place.
One of the great success stories of 2020 has been the rampaging Palmyra team who have been by far the most improved side in the premier grade since 2019.
With a relatively young side at their disposal, the ‘Palms’ have defied all odds to sit in third place as the finals quickly approach on the horizon.
Palmyra host some of the hottest prospects in the competition including the blistering Marcus Arrindell who has added an enormous amount of penetration to the ‘Palms’ backline while back rower Jackson Pugh has been a fan favourite down at the ‘Oasis for his exceptional movement around the breakdown.
While they may have the wind at their back for now, Palmyra can’t afford to get complacent as they prepare for a bumpy road home with fixtures against Perth Bayswater, ARKS and Wanneroo.
The ‘Boars’ were slow out of the blocks early in the season after losing their opening two fixtures, but as they always do, they have clawed their way back into contention for finals following a string of strong results.
It’s hard to remember the last time Wests missed out on premier grade finals, and they will be frantic to maintain that standard in the final rounds.
Joondalup proved a difficult obstacle to move on Saturday, but Wests hung on to clinch victory 35-31 thanks to a hat-trick of tries by Cody Coe-Baker.
Leading the side in the front-row Nicholas McLennan will know that his team can’t afford to rest their laurels as they seek a famous win over Associates on home soil this weekend.
After clinching a critical victory over UWA, Nedlands find themselves narrowly chasing the head of the pack.
It hasn’t been the most flattering of seasons in recent memory for one of the most successful clubs in Premier Grade history but like any great club they are still in the hunt to clinch a finals spot.
Captain Dylan Loversidge who throughout this season reached his milestone of 100 premier grade games has led from the front for his side, illustrating phenomenal patience in the pressure moments while guiding his side around the paddock.
Nedlands will face their toughest task yet as they host the intimidating Cottesloe in a game that could determine their fate.
Similar to Palmyra, Joondalup have slipped under the radar with their brilliant transformation in 2020.
Bursting open the floodgates at the start of the season, the ‘Brothers’ went undefeated in the first six rounds showing off a high-octane style of play that split teams apart.
Joondalup’s blueprint to success has been their versatility around the ground with plenty of ball carrying options along with a mobile forward pack.
However, after a few unfavourable results the ’Brothers’ all of a sudden find themselves in between a rock and a hard place as they are in a position where they can’t afford to lose in the next three rounds.
Out of the top eight teams, Joondalup arguably face the most volatile road to finals with upcoming fixtures against UWA, Cottesloe and the Coastal Cavaliers.
A loss to Nedlands means the ‘Students’ of UWA have a mountain to climb if they are to have any hope of making another finals appearance.
But don’t count them out yet, as this is a club that can strike from any position and has a resilience that is unmatched amongst other clubs.
With potent strike weapons such as the O’Sullivan brothers, Harry Scoble, and Ben Taylor, UWA is in safe hands as they walk towards the blazing tension of finals.
UWA now look forward to a gigantic clash with Joondalup, which is sure to produce some mouth-watering action in round 11.
With a wave of pressure well and truly on top of them, Wanneroo remain the heavy underdogs to book their place in the top four.
However, stranger things have happened, and while many would doubt their chances, Wanneroo have unleashed an unorthodox style of rugby that has served them well in the latter part of 2020.
Sitting in eight place it’s a daunting prospect to even think of finals, but there’s no doubt Wanneroo will have their gaze firmly fixed on a finals finish and they will begin their journey with a clash against ARKS this weekend.
To help their cause the ‘Roo Dogs’ will need to be ruthless in attack and look to stack the points on their opponents.
In their ammunition Wanneroo house players such as Luke Callan and Pama Fou who will pose a major threat with ball in hand.