Werribee Bears lose traction as competitors play catch up

Werribee Bears
Werribee Bears player Dylan Vea. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Lance Jenkinson

Werribee Bears are a long way off reaching their full capacity in the NRL Victoria first grade this season.

The Bears have been the powerhouse of the competition in recent years, winning the past three top-flight premierships, but they are yet to reach anywhere near those dizzying heights this campaign.

A 36-32 win over newcomers Melton Broncos at Macpherson Park on Saturday drew a lukewarm reaction from Bears coach Curtly Tuala.

“We made that game look harder than it seemed,” he said.

“It just came down to not playing the football that we usually play and that’s being simple in both attack and defence.

“I always look at it from a coach’s perspective and there’s positives and there’s room for improvement, but I tilted more to there being a lot of room for improvement.”

Werribee has won three of its opening four matches, but alarm bells were ringing when they lost 52-10 to Truganina Rabbitohs in the game before the Easter break.

While the Bears were undermanned on that day, there were no excuses as the Rabbitohs ran rampant to score nine tries to two.

Tuala was looking for a strong reaction from his team against Melton, but while they won, they did not show the desire he was searching for, particularly on the defensive end.

“The last two games we’ve conceded 84 points,” Tuala said.

“We build our defence before our attack and pride ourselves on it, so conceding that amount of points in the last two games is not something we’re proud of as a playing group.

“We’ll make sure we’re a lot more smarter, a lot more active and a lot more ruthless in defence next week.”

Captain Sepu Ryder was a strong leader for Werribee. He directed the Bears around the field with actions and through his dialogue with his teammates.

Centre Niua Puaka courageously put his body on the line, while Moko Marr was the top 80-minute performer, muscling up in defence and providing a lift on attack.

Werribee will need to lift a gear in the grand final re-match with Sunbury Tigers at Haines Drive Reserve on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Truganina Rabbitohs are the only undefeated side in the competition.

The Rabbitohs notched 50 for the second time in as many weeks, pummelling Casey Warriors 50-18 at Casey Fields.

Rabbitohs clash with Waverley Panthers at Clearwood Drive Reserve on Saturday.

In women’s first grade, Werribee Bears romped to a 54-6 victory over Melton Broncos to stay second on the ladder.

Truganina Rabbitohs had an identical 54-6 win over Casey Warriors to remain unbeaten.