GNFL Round 11 Preview: Wounded Rovers face charging Rams in battle for third place

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Tyler Caddy in action as Rams look to take third spot
Camera IconTyler Caddy in action as Rams look to take third spot Credit: Justine Rowe Around the Traps

After a round of upsets the order of the top four is as a wide open as it has been since the beginning of the season.

With Rams putting in a stunning performance at Railways and Mullewa mauling a weary Rovers side they now both sit on 20 points and will face each other in what should be game of the round to decide who takes third place.

Northampton will have the home ground advantage and the momentum while a stuttering Rovers side look to bounce back after consecutive losses either side of the bye.

The Demons have been undone by forces outside their control — COVID raked the club before their clash with Brigades resulting in the cancellation of the reserves clash and had several players unavailable or out with illness against Mullewa.

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It’s meant young players having to play two games across the day which as they found out was not sustainable as the Saints overran their tired legs.

Northampton, meanwhile, look like they’re in the best shape all year and right now the best shape of perhaps any club in the competition.

Dylan Corbett scythed his way through the Railways midfield, Flynn Dillon is one of the best players of the comp this season and they have plenty of weapons going forward now they have got that run and carry through the midfield.

Last time they met Rovers won out 97 to 72 at home in an entertaining clash but roles have been reversed and Rams should go in as favourites.

Rovers coach Ian Comben is aware of the challenges his side face but is hopeful they can turn it around.

“They are certainly dangerous through the midfield so we need to deny that ball out of the centre and get back to the footy we know we can play,” he said.

“A key issue for us has been the ability to lock it in our own forward line when we have got the ball down there so is something we are focusing on heading into the weekend.”

Rovers still have some quality on the park. Gabriel Parfitt has been among the best in the comp and Joshua Simpson remains dangerous in the forward line with ex-AFL player Shannon Cox a strong tall option when available.

One area where Comben knows they can improve is in their preparation.

“Training has been reasonably poor the last few weeks so we would really like to see more guys turn up,” he said.

Out at Mullewa, the Saints will be looking to win two in a row against a poorly looking Towns side that was wiped off the park last week.

After three years of pain before their breakthrough win against Northampton earlier in the season the Saints are in no hurry to fall back into a hole like that again and will probably go in as favourites for the first time years.

In the other game, Railways would be looking to come back against a Chapman Valley in the Big Freeze at the Valley clash.

The Royals are fresh off the bye but have not looked like troubling the teams above them all season in what should be a fun atmosphere with proceeds of the day fundraising for MND research.

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