As we head into round nine this weekend, a review of the table suggests no surprises at the makeup of the top four but perhaps a few eyebrows are raised at Fraser Park, sitting comfortably in fifth.
There was no doubt that Fraser Park had recruited well during the off season, and coach David Perkovic has now settled into the role after joining midway through last year. A better performance this season was expected though even the Fraser Park faithful may be surprised at how well they have performed so far. That makes Saturday’s clash against the visiting Bankstown Berries very interesting as Fraser, still with a game in hand of course, could, with a win over the Berries, usurp the visitors over time. The Berries collapsed against Bankstown Lions last weekend and will have the job ahead of them at Fraser Park.
The Lions emerged triumphant against the Berries of course, and are starting to look dangerous after a somewhat slow start. The quality in the side indicates that they will be near the top and they will take the field with some confidence, after last weekend, when Sydney University come to Jensen Park. Uni had a decent start to the season, winning two of their first three, but have been inconsistent since, without a win in their past five. They have certainly shown some dogged determination in patches, last week against Mounties a case in point, but their continued conceding of early goals is proving a problem.
We can expect Macarthur Rams v Mounties Wanderers at Lynwood Park to be a strong affair. Four draws then four wins is the Rams’ run of results, a sequence which has pushed them to second on the table. The wins are helped by the goals of Shannon Hankin who is now starting to find the net and who has scored in each of those past four wins.
Mounties are in the bunch midtable and have now gone five games without a win. Not something the Mounties are used to, and they won’t find it any easier this weekend.
St George and Hills Brumbies meet for the second time in ten days, after their cup exertions. The Saints were successful in that encounter, following up with a hard earned win against Dulwich Hill last Saturday. They will look to gain some momentum now and try and replicate the Lions and Rams as they seek to climb the ladder. It will be a proud night for St George captain Simon Verrender too, who will make his 300th senior appearance for the Saints, a momentous achievement.
The two northern based sides Northern Tigers and Spirit FC meet at Mills Park. The Tigers remain strong and look the goods this year and the young Spirit side will have their hands full in this match. The experienced Tigers will be aware of the pack close behind them on the table, so can’t afford a slip up at home. They will certainly remember though that their last home loss was a hefty 0-4 defeat to Spirit in the second last week of last season. Spirit had their Waratah Cup third round match on Wednesday night and clearly recovered from their loss to Fraser Park, outgunning division one highflyers, Mount Druitt 4-0.
Granville Rage and Dulwich Hill finish the round at Garside Park. The Rage had a great result against Uni last weekend, in a difficult fixture, and are only a win outside the five as a result. Their home form though has not been anything to write home about this season, surprisingly, and Dulwich Hill may well be able to take advantage of that.
-By Peter Rowney