The first half of the VFL season has seen, as is quite often the case, pre-season predictions be quite a way off the mark. The off-season saw Werribee being named premiership favourites by quite a few pundits, after missing out on last year’s grand final by less than a kick.
To support reigning Liston Medallist Ben Ross, Werribee added the likes of North Melbourne listed players Jordan Gysberts and future father-son pick Luke McDonald, along with VFL stalwart Kris Pendlebury, in an attempt to better an impressive 2012 season.
Season so far
The premiership favourite tag looked to be justified as early as the first game, as Werribee smashed grand finalist Port Melbourne by 72 points. However, their season took a drastic turn when they lost four of the next five games, and quite convincingly. The Tigers lost to Williamstown by 83 points, to Sandringham by 64 points, and to Geelong by 55 points, leaving them at two wins and four losses. Werribee have managed to turn their season around with four consecutive wins, holding them in good stead to make a charge for the finals. The early rounds have seen Pendlebury play only the one game, having struggled with a knee complaint.
Biggest Improver: Ben Warren
After being delisted from North Melbourne last season, the major knock on Ben Warren was that he was merely a VFL standard player. However, so far this season, Warren has shown himself to be a class above, having kicked 39 goals in 10 games. Included in that was a dominant performance against Port Melbourne, where Warren kicked 11 goals, along with a nine-goal performance against Frankston. After finishing second in last year’s Frosty Miller Medal, Warren now leads all comers with a four-goal cushion, his great form coming in a bid to revive his AFL dream.
Biggest Slider: Jordan Gysberts
Drafted to Melbourne with pick 11 in the 2009 AFL Draft, Jordan Gysberts was traded to North Melbourne last season in a deal for Cameron Pedersen. At 22 years of age, it seemed as though Gysberts would begin to make his claim for a seniors berth at North: however, early season form suggests otherwise. After featuring in Casey’s bests seven times last season, Gysberts has only managed to feature three times from 10 games for Werribee this season (including at the weekend against Bendigo). His best game for the season was in the Foxtel Cup victory against Queanbeyan, where he had 22 disposals, four clearances and four inside 50s in the 85-point win in a best afield performance, showing that the potential is there.
Second half preview
After comfortably notching up their sixth win of the season against league-strugglers Bendigo this week, a tough draw is to come for Werribee. While the Tigers still have three games at home, they all come against the three of the better teams of the competition in Casey, Box Hill and Port Melbourne, who are all in the top four. Winning one of those three is pivotal if Werribee want to keep their finals hopes alive, as 10 wins should secure them a finals berth. Failure to win one of those would mean that Werribee would have to defeat either the Northern Blues or Collingwood away from home. The Tigers are also alive in the Foxtel Cup, where they face East Fremantle in the semi-final on July 9.
End of season prediction:
Four wins and four losses from their last eight games.