Fortescue Premier Grade Round Six Preview

Wed, Apr 26, 2023, 2:52 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

Another chapter in the most deep-seated, heated rivalry in WA rugby will be written on Saturday when Joondalup Brothers host Wanneroo Districts in the battle for the King of the North Cup in the Fortescue Premier Grade.

The Roo Dogs are celebrating their 50th anniversary while it is 25 years since a breakaway group controversially left Wanneroo to set up the rival northern suburbs Brothers club.

With bragging rights on the line there will be plenty of feeling at Joondalup Arena in the round six clash.

Both clubs have two wins. Joondalup are seventh with nine points, a bonus point ahead of Wanneroo in ninth.

Brothers coach Ben Focas, in his first year in charge, is well aware of the significance of the game.

"It's a big one for us," Focas said.

Joondalup have brought a number of former players back from rival clubs this season.

"It's been a big rebuild. It's been a bit of a sweep-out this year," Focas said.

"There's a new coaching team, we're trying to change the on-field culture.

"It's been a real positive pre-season, bringing Brothers back.

"We are still trying to get a few back and we're getting our youth players through which is another positive."

Focas said they were introducing a simple, basic game style.

"We just want to tidy things up. We want a solid set-piece where we can compete, build phases and pressure," he said.

"We need to knock out unforced errors that give teams opportunities.

"It's real simple rugby but we want the boys to enjoy it.

"We don't want to heap too much pressure on them. I think we did that in the early rounds.

"We are confident in our process. We've just got to put it together.

"We want to be competitive, play our brand of rugby and knock off teams as we go."

Wanneroo - holders of the "King" trophy that is decided across all grades - have had a disappointing, injury-ridden start to the season.

Coach Kolose Feaunati, also in his debut season in charge of a Premier Grade side but well aware of what the game means to both clubs, has been nursing a young, inexperienced side waiting for some of his 29 sidelined players to return.

"With the injuries we have at the moment it is just a matter of filling in with what we've got and giving the younger players a go," Feaunati said.

"It's a young side and they are still learning.

"It's just a matter of adjusting until boys come back from injury.

"Right now they need to hold, play competitive rugby and hopefully it will be a different ball game when players return."

Feaunati said despite results and injuries morale was still high, but it was important to break bad habits.

"One of the problems we have at the moment is breaking bad habits. That's a key thing for me," he said.

"Trying not to play that crash-bash game up the middle.

"At the moment we are playing too much into the opposition hands.

"We are not running our shapes.

"It's getting the young boys to trust and have belief in the way we can play.

"We default back to bad habits.

"It is a little disappointing with two wins out of five but the boys still believe in themselves which is a good thing.

"The whole dynamic changes with top end injuries but when players return the knock-on effect goes down the grades." 

Perth Bayswater v Cottesloe will be live on Stan Sport and the King of the North Cup clash is the feature match on the RugbyWA YouTube channel. 

In other fixtures Associates host Palmyra, Wests Scarborough are at home to Southern Lions and UWA travel to Kalamunda.