Fortescue Premier Grade Semi-Final Wrap

Wed, Aug 23, 2023, 1:12 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

And then there were four.

After 22 rounds, the Fortescue Premier Grade semi-finalists have been decided.

Minor premiers Palmyra host fourth-placed Associates while Wests Scarborough, who jumped into second spot in the last round, are at home to UWA who spent so long at the top but finished third.

Wests finished above UWA courtesy of their better for-and-against points difference.

In previous match-ups this season Associates beat Palmyra 16-14 at Allen Park in round six but took a 44-19 thumping in the return fixture.

UWA had a 31-19 win over Wests at UWA Sports Park in the opening game of the year, but Wests came out on top 27-21 in the start to the second-half of the season.

But that was then - and this is now as the side's head into their all-or-nothing deciders.

Palmyra coach Darren Reed was pleased the final game of the season was a do-or-die effort for Cottesloe to make the finals.

But he said winning the minor premiership was only a job half done.

"To be blunt, I didn't start the season with the minor premiership as my goal," Reed said.

"It's a nice bonus but we want to win grand finals.

"I was very pleased that Cott were in the situation they were in because it meant they were going to go hard.

"Having that hard hit-out before you go into a final series is a good thing.

"It was good for the preparation against an Associates side that are well coached, will be well prepared, athletic and combative.

"They'll go hard at the breakdown and can get the ball from edge to edge."

Associates have been fighting to keep their finals hopes alive for the past month, but coach Sape Misa said it was good preparation for the cut-throat semi-final.

"We've been through some tough times to get here," Misa said.

"The last three weeks we have literally been playing knock-out footy.

"We've had to win every game, taking each week as a do-or-die game, but that has helped us to get ready for this game."

Misa admits they have a tough task ahead against the title favourites.

"It doesn't get any easier this week," he said.

"Paly are the team to beat. They have so much depth through all their grades.

"But this is a new competition. Nothing you did all season counts.

"We take nothing out of the previous games.

"It was so long ago it's not relevant.

"It's the team that shows up on the day."

Wests Scarborough coach Jeremy Thrush started in the last round win over Wanneroo but the former All Black second row is expecting to put himself on the reserves bench against UWA.

"It will be a precaution. I'd rather we do it with the other players, but we'll see," Thrush said.

Wanneroo got to within four points before Wests ran away with a 62-25 win, but Thrush saw it as a good test heading into the semi-final.

"Wanneroo kept in the fight, we slipped off a little bit and let them get into the game, going away from what we've been doing and not respecting the ball," Thrush said.

"It was a good test for us, a blessing on disguise to get that pressure and find a way to win."

Thrush said the side had found a "happy medium" for an attacking style of play.

"We want to attack space, but we also need to figure out where to do that each week against different teams," he said.

"We'll come up with a plan that we think we can execute well and make us feel confident and comfortable.

"We'll do our homework and hopefully work out what we're up against.

"UWA have had injuries, but you have to give credit to their coaches and the squad for the way they have gone about things.

"They have belief that they can come and tip us up and so they should the way they've been going."

UWA had the last round bye, but coach Alex Stajka was happy to have the weekend off, knowing they had already made the semi-finals.

"We were locked in so it was quite an enjoyable, rugby free weekend without having to stress about whether we were going to make the top four," Stajka said.

"Some of the boys watched Wests, some went down south.

"It was really good for the boys to let the bodies recover so we can go into this game ready to rock and roll."

Stajka is planning for Thrush to play.

"When you've got an All Black available you pick him," he said.

"Wests have developed their game nicely.

"They move the ball very well but we've spotted a couple of weaknesses, more individual based than system based.

"There are a couple of individuals that we are looking to exploit.

"We've identified it, if we can execute it, we'll be alright.

"Wests react really well to situations, whether structured or unstructured and will make teams pay.

"They are dangerous from every situation."

The Palmyra v Associates Fortescue Premier Grade clash will be broadcast on Stan with the other semi-final the feature match on RugbyWA's You Tube channel.

In other grades:

Reserves: Palmyra v Cottesloe, Wests Scarborough v Nedlands.

Thirds: Palmyra v Perth Bayswater, Cottesloe v Nedlands.

Fourths: Associates v Nedlands.

Women's Premier: Wanneroo v Cottesloe.

Colts Grade: Wanneroo v Palmyra, Joondalup v Nedlands.

Championship: Bunbury v Kwinana, Mandurah v Rockingham.

Community: Bunbury v Mandurah.

RECAP: Australian Rugby Shield - Rolling Day 1 Coverage
Southern Lions U15's Making Their Mark
Western Force and RugbyWA join forces ahead of Super Rugby U16 and U19 Tournament
2023 Men's Fortescue Premier Grade Grand Final Wrap