Preview: Werribee Tigers vs Geelong
Neighbouring club’s the Werribee Tigers and Geelong Cats will be going head to head this Sunday in a sudden death Preliminary Final at North Port Oval.
A win for the Tigers will bring about their first Grand Final appearance since 2005 when they finished Runners-up to the Sandringham Zebras.
2012 has seen Werribee finish the home and away season with a top four position and they eased their way through to the Preliminary Final after knocking off Minor Premiers the Casey Scorpions in an uncharacteristically low scoring encounter.
This result has allowed key players to rest and recover for the upcoming match whilst their Development team played off in a Preliminary Final last weekend.
This week brings upon an unusual circumstance for Werribee with North Melbourne no longer in the finals race.
“It is the first weekend we have played stand alone without our aligned club playing, but I don’t believe it will impact us, we have a core group of players playing with us so I don’t see that changing.”
Nevertheless, the Tigers have named three players in their extended squad that did not play in their previous final and who could prove to be big assets; Sam Gibson, Cameron Pederson and Nathan Ablett.
Sam Gibson was an integral element of Werribee’s win against the Cats in round five, being awarded the Damian Drum Medal for his outstanding game in the midfield amassing 40 disposals and three goals.
The VFL experience these three players possess could prove to be very influential in this do or die match.
However, experience is not an element that the Werribee Football Club are lacking with Captain Robbie Castello notching up a considerable milestone this weekend.
“It’s a great achievement for Robbie to play his 150th game. He has been a loyal and great player for this club and has led the way all year. I think his greatest influence this year apart from his playing ability, is his infectious enthusiasm. He is always up and about and always the one encouraging and directing others.”
The Tigers have also celebrated another achievement in recent weeks with Ben Ross being awarded as the Best & Fairest player in the Peter Jackson VFL.
“There has been a lot of excitement around Ben winning the Liston Medal. I think it stems not only because he had a great year and thoroughly deserved it but he also reflects what it takes to succeed, and that is always to persist. He has been a great role model to our younger players.”
Both Werribee and Geelong have admitted it is hard to take much from their last match against one another as it was so early in the season. Geelong Development Coach Max Rooke can recall key elements of the game.
“All the teams in the VFL competition and the way they play changes so much from week to week, that a lot of the information from that match is not ‘as’ relevant 16 weeks on.
“From memory Werribee kicked seven goals to one during the first quarter and then we played catch up for the rest of the night. We fought back to be within a couple of goals during the last quarter but after sustaining a number of injuries which hampered our rotations and trying to make up such a great deficit we simply ran out of legs against a very good opponent.
“While we did not start well, Werribee were very impressive and moved the ball really well and quickly in slippery conditions.”
Rooke believes that Werribee’s greatest strength is their depth across the field, naming individuals in every line as threats to the Cats.
“They have a core group of midfielders such as Ben Ross, Sam Gibson, Ben Sharp, Levi Greenwood, Malcolm Lynch and Ben Speight that give them a lot of flexibility. The rucks Majak Daw and Will Sullivan complement each other really well and give their midfield group first use.
“Their potential forward line of Lachlan Hansen, Ben McKinley, Robbie Castello and Ben Warren is as dangerous as any in the VFL competition.
“While in defence the likes of Leigh Harding, Cameron Pedersen, Kyle Hartigan, Brad Mangan and Ayden Kennedy are all enjoying terrific seasons.”
Geelong are presented with the same circumstances as Werribee, with their AFL side now out of the finals. However, Rooke does not see their core group changing as a result.
“While it is extremely disappointing that our AFL side is out, it will not have a significant impact on the selection of the VFL team for this weekend. Jordan Murdoch and Jonathan Simpkin are both eligible to play in the match and have been included in the squad.
“Cameron Guthrie is the only omission from the squad due to being ineligible for the VFL finals after playing 14 AFL matches this season.”
The Cats possess a key asset that has helped them achieve success in the later part of this season. The last 11 consecutive matches have resulted in Geelong winning the final term.
“We would like to think that we have managed our AFL and VFL lists really well this season and that the players are in good physical condition and in a really good frame of mind at this stage of the year.
“We know that we run out games well. This season we have won a number of close games and been forced to come from behind on a number of occasions. This should give the group a lot of confidence going into the preliminary final,” Rooke said.
Tune into ABC TV this Sunday for a live broadcast of the match from 2pm.
The game will also be broadcast on VFL Radio and K-Rock