Fortescue Premier Grade Round Twenty-One Preview

Wed, Aug 9, 2023, 2:02 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

The race for the top four in the Fortescue Premier Grade is coming right down to the wire.

Palmyra and UWA have locked away semi-finals spot but have no guarantee where they will finish while four clubs are jostling for the remaining two spots.

Last week's results kept things interesting.

Palmyra moved one step closer to the Minor Premiership with their 51-5 thumping of Southern Lions in the local derby.

Second-placed UWA picked up four points in a close-run thing against Perth Bayswater but the visitors picked up a vital bonus point in the 31-30 loss.

Wests consolidated third with a 45-7 win over Kalamunda, Cottesloe ground out a 35-20 win over Wanneroo Districts and Associates beat Nedlands 40-17 at the Foreshore.

Palmyra can claim the Minor Premiership with a win at Kalamunda this weekend while there is a huge clash at Cottesloe where UWA - who have the last round bye - must win to retain second and Cottesloe need a bonus point win to stay in the hunt.

Wests are seven points adrift of UWA but two wins and a UWA loss could throw a spanner in the works.

They are three points clear of Associates - who cannot afford any slip-ups - despite jumping four points clear of both Cottesloe and Perth Bayswater last weekend.

Wests face Perth Bayswater at Pat O'Hara Reserve in a big game for both clubs, the Stan match of the round.

Associates are at Joondalup and Nedlands travel to Kingsway to face Wanneroo Districts.

Even after the penultimate round some questions may not have been answered and it could all come down to the last games.

Cottesloe have another huge clash, this time away to Palmyra and Associates face a potential banana skin game against Southern Lions if they take their right game to Allen Park.

Wests will be favourites to beat Wanneroo, likewise Perth Bayswater at Nedlands.

Wests look to have timed their run to the finals well, unbeaten in their last four games, including the crucial 29-19 victory over Palmyra.

Coach Jeremy Thrush believes Palmyra and UWA will hold onto the top two spots with a couple of "intense" weeks for the four clubs chasing the remaining two spots.

"The next couple of games will be pretty intense for a few of us," Thrush said.

"But that's good because it's practice for if you do make it to the finals and the intensity you will have to bring.

"Bayswater will be a big challenge.

"We are both fighting to make the top four, to stay in contention.

"We are focusing on trying to win the next two and secure third spot."

Thrush has tempered training, particularly after physical games against Palmyra and Kalamunda.

"The boys were a bit done so we have taken it a bit easier on Tuesday nights before turning the dial up on Thursdays," he said.

"It's such a long season and you can see the boys are a bit battered and bruised.

"It's about making sure we do the right things, things that are important, not just running the boys for the sake of it.

"It's making sure their mindset is right with the right game plan and game understanding which is where we have slipped away a little bit at times.

"The big thing is challenging the boys.

"We can play rugby with the best of them.

"We've got some good rugby players.

"It's just getting an understanding of where we want to play the rugby.

"It's been challenging but we are finding confidence in our game."

With the weekend celebration of Women in Rugby the RugbyWA You Tube channel will show both women's competition games, Kalamunda v Wanneroo (2:30pm kick off) and Cottesloe v Southern Lions (4pm kick-off).

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