Flying high out west
Friday, 12th July, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
Following just two wins in the previous two seasons, West have climbed up the League ladder in stunning fashion in 2019 with six wins, two losses and a draw.
A key to West’s form has been them keeping a consistent side on the park each week. They’ve used just 30 players in nine games.
Their wins have included two comprehensive defeats of North and a narrow four-point victory over South, the club’s first in about a decade of competition.
More recently though, the Robins suffered a heart-breaking one-point loss against North followed by a draw with South in which they gave up a five-goal lead. Despite this, they still sit on top of the ladder by percentage and have the chance to win the minor premiership for the first time since 2007.
Most Valuable Player: The Midfield
It was far too hard to narrow it down to just one player considering West’s success so far this season has been built on defensive pressure as well as midfield dominance.
With great recruiting, West have gone from having one of the weakest midfields to the deepest in less than a year with the likes of Thomas Rowe, Nathan Greenshields, Rourke Turner, Michael Westley, Liam King, Daniel Milne and the now injured Jayden White.
That depth gives the Robins two full midfield rotations of top-quality talent, even without White.
Best Junior: Brock Ellis
Bailey Beattie is unlucky to miss out here but it is Ellis’ consistency and scoreboard impact that gets him the nod.
The West Under 18s captain has played all nine matches in 2019, kicking 15 goals including three in West’s win over South. While he’ll eventually move further up the ground into the midfield, his speed and goal awareness make him a valuable part of the West forward line in 2019.
Most Underrated: Josh Cieslik
A move to centre-half back late last season has proved a masterstroke for Cieslik who has been fantastic for the Robins with his strong hands and efficient kicking. His stock rose even higher following a great performance for Broken Hill earlier this season against Far North.
Cieslik suffered a hamstring injury early in last weekend’s clash but West will be hoping he has avoided serious damage and is back on the field for the run into finals.
Lookout for: Daniel Milne
The hard-nosed midfielder has enjoyed a solid return from two years out of the game due to a knee injury. He returned with a best on ground effort in round one on Anzac Day.
While he’s had an impact on a number of games, the more football Milne plays the more consistent he’ll become and if he can get back to his absolute best by the end of the season, West will be tough to stop.
The Robins were super close to an A+ before their last couple of weeks where they lost to North and gave up a 32-point halftime lead to draw with South but considering where this team was 12 months ago, the turnaround has been amazing.
The rest of the season is in their hands and they have a massive chance of ending a whopping 29-year League premiership drought.
The major worry has to be in the ruck department. Matt Nelson has been a terrific servant for the club over the years and can still get the job done but there is no depth if he goes down. Nelson has competed pretty much one-out in the ruck for the majority of his career which has taken a toll on his body.
He’s usually able to battle through but if he is sidelined for an extended period, the Robins midfield will struggle against the likes of Mitch Henderson at South and Trent Barraclough at North, two skilled and athletic ruckmen who will give their onballers an armchair ride at the stoppages.
Beattie has been used at times, has have Jake Crozier and Jackson Ruddock, but West will be hoping Nelson’s body holds up for the rest of 2019.