GNFL round 13 preview: Royals’ credentials to be put to test as Chapman Valley make charge for finals

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Jack Cocking of Railways takes a contested mark.
Camera IconJack Cocking of Railways takes a contested mark. Credit: Justine Rowe Around the Traps/RegionalHUB

With only five rounds left in the GNFL season, the battle for the final four positions hasn’t been closer as the early season dominance of the top three has been cut back by the chasing pack.

Brigades now sit top of the ladder after Railways lost two of their past three games, and will face a surging Chapman Valley who have come from nowhere to be challenging for a spot in the finals.

It is hard to say Chapman Valley’s win against Railways was representative of the footy they have played throughout the season.

But their dismantling of Rovers on the weekend should make the competition take notice. They’re a considerable force, having got some key players back from injury and a good group of youngsters such as Ewan Whitely and Mitchell Thompson.

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However, their poor percentage effectively counts as a loss, meaning they will have to keep winning and bring the intensity they showed last weekend to stay in the hunt.

It will be a tough assignment against the Brigades and their powerful forward line led by evergreen Dale Williamson, but they will have the home ground advantage and if they can knock over the Hawks their pathway to the finals will be seriously widened.

At Greenough, the beleaguered Rovers will be hoping for some luck with illness and injury so they can get close to their best side on the park.

The Demons have been in indifferent form for the past month, mainly driven by player availability, with illness and injury forcing multiple changes each week and many players having to back up from reserves and colts clashes.

It was a big factor in their loss on the weekend as they tired far quicker than their Royals counterparts.

Railways got back to winning ways over the weekend but are still yet to rediscover their dominant form from earlier in the year that saw them win seven games on the bounce to look odds-on for finishing tops.

Railways coach Matthew Powell said they had also been hit by team disruptions which slowed their momentum but this week’s side should be pretty close to the one that won over Towns last week.

“We had a lot of interruptions with our squad as far as availability went, so I think sometimes that can catch up with you. Having to make a lot of changes week by week is challenging for the coaches,” he said.

“Hopefully we can steady things up moving forward to get that consistency back.”

Both teams are looking for some consistency and Powell is expecting a physical contest.

“Playing Rovers is always a good game; they play a hard and tough game of football, which is great preparation this time of the year. It should be a good hit out,” he said.

Young forward Jack Cocking is having an outstanding year, booting 26 goals in nine games and was excellent in the Colts country week, making the all-star team.

He will be a major threat on the weekend, with his coach praising the youngster.

“Jack is having a great year, which is exciting for us. He is really dedicated to training and getting better and this all shows on game day,” Powell said.

“He’s linking well with our midfield and has great support in the forward line too.”

Northampton will return from a bye at home against Mullewa and will want a win to make sure they can stay safe against the Royals’ challenge.

Towns will have a bye. All games will be played on Saturday.

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