Retired Ipswich Jets scoring machine Nemani Valekapa storms through the defence. He’s lining up for Swifts this season. Picture: David Nielsen
Retired Ipswich Jets scoring machine Nemani Valekapa storms through the defence. He’s lining up for Swifts this season. Picture: David Nielsen

Footy fires up: See how the A-Grade teams look

BOMBER'S BLAST

Anthony Breeze

ROUND 1 of the ACS Group Rugby League Ipswich competition gets underway this weekend.

Here's how the three A-Grade matches shape up.

Saturday (6pm): Jets v Swifts at Rosewood

The Jets are the new team on the block and will face a side that is strong across the park in the Bluebirds. The Jets will be lacking in combinations early in the season due to many players not knowing each other's game but by the halfway mark and beyond will develop into a much more cohesive unit. The Jes will be causing trouble as the season rolls along.

The side is coached by Intrust Super Cup legend Phil Dennis, who will also dust off the boots.

Queensland rugby league great and Rosewood Jets new coach Phil Dennis. Picture: David Lems
Queensland rugby league great and Rosewood Jets new coach Phil Dennis. Picture: David Lems


Dennis will be looking at experienced players in Rhys Jacks and John Schwalger for guidance around the field. They have a host of players in their early 20s who will keep them in line for victory in most games. Swifts are a star-studded team who are strong right across the board with several players having been at the Bluebirds for years.

The addition of former Jet Nemani Valekapa and former Bear Godfrey Okot means they have speed to burn in their outside backs.

The backs will be doing most of the scoring.

Former Ipswich Jet Nemani Valekapa now playing for Swifts. Picture: Bradley Cooper
Former Ipswich Jet Nemani Valekapa now playing for Swifts. Picture: Bradley Cooper

The forward pack will be led by front rower Jericho Tanuvasa who will be hoping the rest of the forwards follow his lead.

Coach Wayne Finch will have his side fit after a hard long pre-season which will give the Bluebirds the upper hand in most games.

This is a hard game for the Jets to open their season but this should be a high quality game.

Tip: Swifts because they will combine better.

Sunday (3pm): Fassifern v Brothers at Hayes Oval, Harrisville

Fassifern open their season in front of their faithful supporters but will be facing a Brothers outfit that appears very strong.

The Bombers have looked to the past in recruiting ex-player Cam Wallace to coach the team. He will be hoping for a first-up effort that mirrors the strong pre-season the boys have put in.

The Bombers haven't had a strong recruitment drive but they didn't need to with a host of local juniors re-signing with the club for the season.

Michael Hayes will be the man calling the shots. He will get a lot of help from a young forward pack with players the calibre of Christensen, Wallace, Wraight and Co.

Brothers also have a host of local juniors in their top squad but have added several players from outside the club to make themselves a premiership force.

John Folau, Eni Folau, Leo Simona and Paul Simona are some of the new players who will be pulling on the Brothers jersey for the first time.

Coach Jason Connors has been around long enough to gel teams together quickly so expect a good first-up showing from the side.

Fassifern will be cheered on by a big local crowd but will that be enough?

Tip: Brothers in a close affair.

Sunday (3pm): Goodna vs West End at Woogaroo Field

The battle between the Eagles and Bulldogs will feature two clubs that have struggled in the off season to attract players for the 2021 season.

The Eagles, won the Volunteers Cup last year, has seen every player disappear for differing reasons and now must start the regrowth with a side that could basically play in an under 21 competition with a few experienced players.

Coach Justin Swney has a big job but he is an Eagle at heart. He will be giving his all to get his young side up for the season.

West End are in much the same boat with only a few players from last year's team re-signing for the Bulldogs. They also will have a young side and will rely heavily on players like Tepatasi Fuiava and Rodney Mauga to show the way for the inexperienced team.

Coach Charlie Carney has a big job on his hands but has a few signings that he hopes can hit the ground running.

This game will not reach any great heights with the team that controls the ball better winning.

Tip: Toss a coin. Maybe a draw.

Quick thoughts

WINNERS: 1. Hideki Matsuyama has done what no Japanese golfer has been able to do by winning the Masters tournament. He was cool under pressure and was a worthy winner.

2. The Brisbane Lions women's side are only one victory away from winning the premiership. Adelaide is the only team standing in their way.

3. The Brisbane Roar have been in some poor form recently but got back into the winner's circle with a fabulous win over top five side Macarthur FC.

LOSERS: 1. The Cairns Taipans were tipped to challenge for the NBL title this year but are in terrible form and cannot make the semis.

2. Melbourne Victory were once a super power in the A-League but have only won three games this year. They sit on the bottom of the ladder.

NRL upwards

1. The Dragons were tipped to win the wooden spoon but currently sit in fourth position after defeating the Eels last week and only suffering one loss for the season.

2. Sam Walker had to back up his debut game performance and he delivered with spades with a terrific second half for the Roosters.

NRL downwards

1. The Sharks board for the disgraceful treatment of coach John Morris. He got them to the semis last year but they wanted more out of him. Terrible decision.

2. The Bulldogs season goes from bad to worse with a 52-18 flogging last week. They are wooden spoon favourites and on current form are certainties.

Sporting birthdays April 15

1. 1845: Dave Gregory - Australia's first Test cricket captain.

2. 1968: John Bracewell - New Zealand spin bowler who took 522 first-class wickets at 26.66.

On this day

1. 1947: Jackie Robinson becomes the 1st African-American to play US Major League baseball.

2. 1986: Viv Richards blasts a Test century off 56 balls against England in Antigua.

3. 1989: 96 people are crushed to death and 766 injured in the Hillsborough disaster.