Super League Round 7 Preview
posted by Artie on April 29, 2011
Providing the adverse weather allows, and the games take place, Spirit FC v Central Coast is the fixture which grabs the attention this round as Super League resumes from its Easter break.
This game pits the current leaders Spirit against the club which led the competition for the opening weeks and which will also see Spirit coach John McLafferty up against the Central Coast, a club and region he knows very well, having, amongst other duties, assisted Peter Preston last season. It will be an interesting battle of wits, as each tries to gain the upper hand in this friendly personal duel.
Spirit have strengthened their squad with the addition of Jordan Simpson, signed from Sutherland Sharks, which will only add further attacking flair to the side. While Simpson may not quite be ready for this weekend, Spirit will still have no shortage of firepower, and they have gained something of a reputation for finishing strongly each game. Central Coast will need to play until the final whistle, to counter any late threat. One man who will be looking forward to this game will be the league’s top scorer, Grant Maundrell, who was at Christie Park last season. Getting a goal or two over his former club will be a target for him, no doubt.
But while we will have to wait until Sunday for this game, there are five matches on the Saturday which are also of much interest.
Sandwiched between Spirit and Central Coast on the table, in second place, are St George. Like the Coast, they have not played for three weeks, their round six match having been postponed so they will certainly be fresh for this one. They meet Granville Rage, who ironically, have been very busy this past week. While the Rage gained a point in their catch up game against Uni last Thursday, they also played their round two Waratah Cup game on Wednesday this week, one of only two involving Super League sides to survive the weather. They proved too strong for Pagewood Botany, running out 5-0 winners, even though a number of first team regulars were rested for this match.
Three games in ten days for the Rage or none in three weeks for St George, which will prove the better preparation?
Sneaking up in fourth spot are the hardworking Blacktown Spartans. They take on Northern Tigers at Francis Park, a game in which the Tigers should be nominal favourites but one which they certainly should not be underestimating by any stretch. This game will see Tom Spencer up against the club he spent quite a few years at, and, like Maundrell this weekend, he will want to impress against his former team mates. The Tigers still remain unbeaten but have had too many draws for Jason Eagar’s liking - unfortunately this match has been postponed and will be played very soon with a date yet to be announced.
While many eyes are on the top, a battle royale will take place at Arlington Oval. Next to bottom Dulwich Hill are at home to bottom placed Hills Brumbies. A win for both clubs is vital as they look to get their season on track. It has been a difficult start for both teams, the newly rebuilt Dulwich Hill still to find their rhythm while Hills are having a tough introduction to Super League. Neither have yet registered a win this season, with Dully also going out of the Cup to Mount Druitt Town on Wednesday, the 2-1 loss continuing their run of poor results. This weekend may prove a great chance to gain a three pointer, for either club.
West Sydney Berries and Sydney University clash at Lidcombe Oval. This will be the first time that John Calleja has visited the Berries since departing midway through last season. It is a different side to the one he had when in charge but a win would still feel sweet. His University team will be hard to beat, they ran Spirit very close last round while also taking the lead against Granville last week. Liam McConaghy will be the danger for the Berries, his four goals so far, an impressive start.
Fraser Park and Macarthur Rams face off at Sydenham. Both teams are lower mid table, not a position they were expecting, although the Rams do have that game in hand. Fraser were facing severe injury problems a couple of weeks ago and the Easter break will have been very timely for them. With Macarthur facing the long trek to Mills Park on Tuesday, it will be an important few days for the Rams.
Weather permitting, it will be a full round this weekend, with further Waratah Cup matches also being scheduled for next midweek. Keep a watch on the FNSW website for up to date venue details and any weekend postponements.
-By Peter Rowney