Fortescue Premier Grade Round Twenty Preview

Fri, Aug 4, 2023, 2:27 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

To borrow from a well-used cliche: it won't be over until the final whistle blows in the race for Fortescue Premier Grade semi-final places.

Palmyra and UWA seem on track to take out the top two spots, but if the last round of results are anything to go by even they will be looking over their shoulders.

The top six sides will all be watching every result in round 20 with more than a passing interest.

Leaders Palmyra stumbled last weekend, beaten 29-19 by a fired-up Wests, as second-placed UWA closed the gap to two points with a much-needed win, a 48-10 thumping of Associates. 

Those results saw Wests move into third, taking a three-point break on Perth Bayswater after their 26-21 win at Kalamunda.

Perth Bayswater are only ahead of Associates courtesy of a superior for-and-against difference as they who slipped from third to fifth.

Sixth-placed Cottesloe are still not out for the count, three points adrift of fourth spot but they did their cause no favours with a shock 30-29 loss at home to a resurgent Southern Lions.

Another round of fascinating games is set to play out on Saturday.

Palmyra host Southern Lions in the Stan match of the day, UWA entertain Perth Baywater, Wests are at home to Kalamunda, Associates travel to Nedlands and Cottesloe are at Kingsway against Wanneroo Districts in the RugbyWA You Tube clash. 

Palmyra coach Darren Reed said squad depth would be tested with a number of players joining an injury list that had four of his core group missing in the loss to Wests.

But Reed was not using injuries as an excuse saying: "We were out-enthused from the get-go," he said.

"We didn't respond and that's the bottom line.

"There was probably a bit of a hangover from the week before (the 65-5 dumping of Nedlands).

"We had a couple of concussions against Wests so they will be mandatory stand-downs and a couple corks.

"We are a bit battered a bruised but that's rugby.

"At some point you are going to have to deal with a bunch of injuries.

"Until now we've been lucky, but we will have quite a few second-graders stepping up.

"Our depth will be tested but injuries aside we are in a good spot.

"If I had been offered where we are now on day one of the season, I would have taken it every day of the week."

UWA are hoping for the return of some of their injured players to push their chances of securing a semi-final spot in the next two games with a bye in the final round.

UWA Coach Alex Stajka said the win over Associates was much needed, bouncing back after the loss to Southern Lions.

"It was a bit of a mindset shift," he said.

"We also identified a few things that Soaks rely on and that they do consistently.

"We thought if we could take that away from them they might struggle, and it proved to be the case."

Stajka was not surprised by recent results and is focused on winning at least one of their next two games against Perth Bayswater and Cottesloe.

 "Anyone can beat anyone. Everyone has to be playing well to win which is testament to the competition," he said.

"We've just got to focus on winning one of last two games. 

"If we win this weekend that's secures us a semi-final.

"A win the following weekend would determine where we play but we've got to earn the right to make the semi-finals."

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