Werribee Bears rule west, but all is not rosy

Werribee Bears hard nut Moko Marr produces a text book tackle on Altona Roosters opponent Cainnon Ratima. Photo: Damjan Janevski

They may be on top of the ladder, but not all is hunky-dory for the Werribee Bears in NRL Victoria first grade.

And despite Saturday’s 34-24 win over arch-rivals Altona Roosters at Loft Reserve, the Bears are far from satisfied with their unimpressive recent form.

Coach Phil Pese is concerned the 10-point victory only serves to plaster over the cracks.

He questioned the “hunger in the bellies” of his players at training and on game days over the past month.

“There are a few things we have to work on in-house to get back to our form of earlier in the season,” Pese told Star Weekly.

“I guess if we train harder and get that hunger back it will carry over to Saturdays.

“I stress to the guys that consistency is a big thing for us this year and our performances of the last two or three weeks haven’t been good.”

The Bears were given an almighty fright by the one-win Roosters and their only real breathing space came when centre Radeem Saleupolo scored his second try in the dying minutes.

“They got pretty close and it was an eye-opener for the guys,” Pese said. “I’m not quite sure what happened to them; they lacked focus in some areas of the game.

“Those minutes when we lost our focus, Altona turned around and put points on us.”

Josh Makiri was a big reason why the Bears held on for the win.

The prop forward drove the side forward, tirelessly chewing up the metres.

“He had a lot of carries and a lot of minutes as well, more minutes than he usually plays,” Pese said.

Winger Soni Mapa muscled up well in defence, making an immediate impact following his promotion from reserve grade, and he’s likely to keep his spot in the top side on that performance.

“His work rate was really good,” Pese said. “He did a lot of good cover tackles; his defence was important.”

The Bears have 14 days to think about their next challenge, at home to Doveton Steelers on July 11.

Pese is not impressed by the week’s break, a view shared by his counterpart, Roosters coach Brandon Taonoa.

“I really don’t understand why there are so many weeks off in the season,” Pese said.

“We have got a week off next week and two weeks after that we have a split round.

“The players are keen to get a consistent season and I’m not too sure why there are more byes because no one can answer my question.”