Fortescue Premier Grade Grand Final Preview

Tue, Aug 29, 2023, 5:45 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

After 21 games and five months of blood, toil, sweat and tears the Fortescue Premier Grade season comes down to the winner takes all Grand Final on Saturday.

Fittingly, the top two sides from the regular season, Palmyra and Wests Scarborough, will face off in the blockbuster clash.

Defending premiers Wests Scarborough are looking for back-to-back titles while minor premiers Palmyra hope to break a 32-year premiership drought.

Scoring machine Palmyra go into the game as favourites having finished the regular season with a huge 480 points for and against difference and 12 bonus points to seal the minor premiership.

They also have the advantage of playing in front of their home crowd at Tompkins Park.

Both sides came through their semi-final wins unscathed - Palmyra 37-7 over Associates and Wests in a comeback to sneak home 23-20 against UWA.

Palmyra coach Darren Reed, who has used the 32-year, monkey-on-the-back, as motivation for his rebuilt squad, said there will be no radical game-plan change and knows what to expect from Wests.

"By the time you get to here 99 per cent of the work is done," Reed said.

"You can't get the guys any fitter and you don't want to be adding things.

"What we've been doing has got us here so it's about making sure the guys are fresh and mentally prepared.

"You might add a little tweak here or there but it's really all upstairs now. It's the mind game.

"The one thing with Wests is you know what's coming your way.

"It's set piece, in particular the line-out, the line-out maul, big bodies coming round the corner.

"They want you to make mistakes in the middle of the field, pick up penalties they can kick into the corner and get their maul working.

"That's their game and it's been very effective.

"They have been good all year."

Wests sat bottom of the ladder in the early rounds before beginning a relentless push into second place.

Coach Jeremy Thrush said at the start of the campaign that he expected a slow burn as players returned from overseas and new recruits arrived.

"We knew we had time to build. It's not been a sprint it's been a marathon season," Thrush said.

"There was plenty of time to build our game and climb the ladder."

Thrush said they needed to extinguish Palmyra's dangerous backline threats.

"Palmyra have been the form team of the competition," he said.

"They have some pretty exciting outside backs and will want to get the ball to them.

"It will be our job to limit the amount of time and space that those guys get and where they get it.

"That will be a big part of the game.

"We'll have a game plan that we hope will put a fair bit of pressure on them."

Former All Black second-rower Thrush has made a number of appearances this season and came off the bench in their semi-final win.

"We don't have the luxury that Pally or other clubs have with numbers to spare," he said.

"We have to use all means possible.

"We've tried to have a fresh bench - I wouldn't say I'm that fresh - to try and change the tide of the game if we need."

The Premier Grade grand final will be broadcast live on Stan and commentators Mick Colliss, Heath Tessmann and Dwayne Nestor are split on their tips for a winner.

Collis and Nestor have tipped Palmyra with Tessmann bucking the trend.

"I think Wests are the only team that can trouble Palmyra but Palmyra will win by 12 points," Collis said.

"Their depth is good right across the forwards and backs.

"They have impressed me every time they put someone on from the bench.

"They've done very well this year in terms of rotating guys and they have a really good squad."

Nestor said: "Pally should get up.

"They have been the best team this year but despite having a cracking attacking backline it will be their defence that will win it.

"Grand finals can sometimes be petty dire affairs and if your defence is the best then generally you'll be the one that gets up.

"Having said that I think this will be a cracking match and if the Wests forwards can get over the top of Palymra it's going to make it hard for that backline."

Tessmann said: "It's going be tough to tip against Pally but a month ago I said Wests could be the only team that could do them.

"Everyone will be tipping Pally but I'm going the other way - but I don't know whether I really believe it!

"For it to happen it will be off the back of the Wests pack dominating Pally and stifling their superior attacking backline."

There will be a packed day of finals from under 12s to Premier Grade.

Three games will be broadcast on the RugbyWA YouTube channel: Colts, Wanneroo v Joondalup, Women's, Wanneroo v Kalamunda and Championship Bunbury v Rockingham.

Finals at a glance

Field One

8.15am: U12 Gold, Kalamunda v Associates

9.30am: U16, Southern Lions v Wests Scarborough

10.45am: U18, Wanneroo v Palmyra

12.15pm: Colts, Wanneroo v Joondalup

2pm: Womens XV, Wanneroo v Kalamunda

4pm: Premiership, Palmyra v Wests Scarborough

Field Two

8.30am: U13 Gold, Rockingham v Nedlands

9.45am: U15, Southern Lions v Mandurah

11am: Womens X, Wests Scarborough v UWA

Noon: Third Grade, Palmyra v Cottesloe

1.45pm Reserve Grade: Wests Scarborough v Cottesloe

3.30: Championship, Bunbury v Rockingham

Field Three

8.45am: U12 Swan, Mandurah v Southern Lions

10am: U13 Swan, Joondalup v ARKS

11.15am: U14, Southern Lions v Kalamunda

12.30pm: Community, Dunsborough v Mandurah

2.15pm: Fourth Grade, Kalamunda v Nedlands