Central Highlands Preview: Round 5
The Central Highlands competition is almost a third of the way through and it's evened out after the losses to Clermont and Middlemount last weekend.
As fate would have it, both of those teams now face each other in a top-of-the table clash in Clermont.
The other game of note this weekend is the Paul Taylor Memorial clash between Springsure and the Tigers with a Women’s match to premiere at Springsure between both Emerald clubs as a curtain-raiser.
Sadly, the Dysart Men’s and Women’s side have had to forfeit this weekend’s home game due to work and injuries. Hopefully with the week off, they are able to return to full-strength for next weekend’s big clash at home against the Tigers for the Darryl Hicks Memorial Shield.
This weekend is not just about the big matchups, but also about raising awareness for White Ribbon through Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Round.
All players and match officials will wear white armbands for the charity and pledge to stand up, speak out and act to stop domestic violence and abuse.
ROUND 5 FIXTURES
Clermont Bears v Middlemount Panthers
7pm Saturday, May 27
It’s a top-of-the table clash between two teams tied first on the ladder.
Both sides are coming off losses last week that broke their undefeated runs.
Clermont are expected to field a full-strength side including the dangerous Dean Williams who didn’t play last weekend.
Whether Middlemount are full-strength or not is still not clear.
They missed their experienced halves paring of Mitch Wyatte and Joel Duffy last weekend as well as edge runners Alex Sainsbury and Sam Creedon.
The old saying goes, “if in doubt, tip the home side” and to tip this game, that should apply.
Emerald Cowboys v Bluff Rabbitohs
7.30pm Saturday, May 27
McIndoe Park Emerald
The Cowboys got their first win against the Dysart Bulls at home two weeks ago and were unlucky not to get over the Crushers last weekend.
They now face the unpredictable Bluff Rabbitohs.
The Rabbitohs got back to their winning ways last Saturday with a dominant 36-18 win over Clermont with their experienced heads in Dane Heron, Peter McLaughlin and Chris Conway steering the ship.
Expect those three boys to fire once again this weekend.
The Cowboys have plenty of youth in their backline and have speed to burn if they can break through the defensive line.
The question will be if the Cowboys forward pack can hold out the attacking raids initiated by Conway and Heron.
The Rabbtohs will be expected to win, but the Cowboys have every potential to cause an upset.
Emerald Tigers Ladies v Emerald Cowgirls
2.30pm Sunday, May 28
Bauhinia Park Springsure
Springsure will host their first ever Women’s premiership match this Sunday and have the privilege of witnessing an Emerald derby ahead of the Paul Taylor Memorial.
The Tigers are coming off the back of a big win against Dysart and the Cowgirls are coming off a big loss against the Crushettes.
The Tigers should be almost back to full strength with minimal injuries in their first three games of the season.
Expect Bonnie Walsh to return in the halves.
The Cowgirls will be wanting to put last week’s big defeat behind them and their more experienced players will be firing.
Expect a massive game from Denise Chaplin – not only is she a former Tiger, but she will also be playing her first premiership match at ‘home’ so will want to put in a proud performance.
It will also be interesting to see if Caitlyn Sheehan returns to the halves after playing fullback last weekend.
Tigers will start favourites, especially after their big win last weekend but anything can happen in these derby games.
Springsure Mountain Men v Emerald Tigers
4pm Sunday, May 28
Bauhinia Park Springsure
Sunday afternoon footy in Springsure playing for Paul Taylor – expect a massive crowd to line the sidelines in support of the Mountain Men.
Last year’s Paul Taylor Memorial clash was described as one of the best games of rugby league ever and will never be forgotten after Jared Owens kicked the winning field goal with seconds left on the clock to give Springsure a narrow 39-38 win.
The Tigers have never won this trophy in the two years it has been played and are coming up against an in-form Springsure side who are sitting on top of the ladder.
Tom Hewitt is expected to return for the Mountain Men and with his return, all eyes will be on where Ray Ebsworth plays after last week’s player of the match performance at fullback.
The Tigers should be almost full strength minus their injuries. The defending premiers are on a roll after defeating Bluff away and Middlemount at home in the last two weeks.
If they are serious about defending the premiership, they need to beat the ladder leaders.
Springsure should get the win in front of a massive home crowd.
Being a Sunday afternoon, it won’t be cold in Springsure and should be two cracking games of footy … definitely worth the entry fee!
For the full draw, results, ladders and upcoming fixtures of the Central Highlands Rugby League, visit www.chrugbyleague.com.au.