GNFL is unbalanced with top four leaving rest behind, but there’s genuine competition between the leaders

TANTI'S TAKEVictor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Josh Simpson being chased by Chapman Valley’s Warrick Hayward.
Camera IconJosh Simpson being chased by Chapman Valley’s Warrick Hayward. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

The 2021 GNFL competition is lopsided, but what should be celebrated is how close the top four are.

If we examine games between them so far, you find Railways (five games) on 14 points followed by Northampton and Brigades (both four games) on eight points and Rovers on six points (five games).

But many are the unknowns.

Rovers have quality players returning but can lose focus. Still, they have a great list led by Clune Medal favourite Jaimon Alone.

There’s also a top new signing in Josh Simpson who years ago said “I’m not the sort of player that busts games open”. True, but he does win them.

Railways and Brigades also have experienced lists and while Norths don’t have the same depth, a plus for them is they play other top four teams this year six times so extra percentage boosters are ahead.

Brigades and Rovers both play other top four teams seven times and Railways have eight such games, not that any of them can miss the finals.

To last week’s statistics and Brigades ended Railways’ unbeaten run at eight games while Dale Williamson lifted his goal tally to 53 — the eighth time he’s bagged 50 or more goals in a season.

That’s a GNFL record, leaving Towns’ Dale Baynes and Brigades’ Steve Perham in his wake on seven each. Williamson is now 23 goals from eclipsing Baynes’ GNFL record of 772. Rovers have lost their past three away games but at home are deadly with 11 wins in a row. Impressive, but way short of their successive home game record of 29.

In fact, their second-best run is 12 games and those two sequences were split by a 13 point defeat so from 1994 to 1999, they lost just one of 42 home fixtures.

Their 250 points last week easily beat their previous best versus Towns of 181 (1996).

It was also a Rovers record against all clubs beating a mark that had stood for 46 years (246 points v Brigades 1975) when Max Raynor and Peter Scott landed 10 and nine goals respectively.

Towns’ eight points was the Bulldogs’ worst against any team, but there was symmetry to it as Rovers’ lowest is also eight points against — wait for it — Towns (2006).

Rovers’ 242-point winning margin was also a record for them against all clubs topping a 200 point win over Brigades in 1975.

Justin Crudeli’s 10 goals was a Rovers’ record against Towns. The previous best was eight to Rod Joseph (1990), Dave McGregor (1994) and Dylan Curley (2020).

Mullewa nearly ended their drought but lost by just 14 points to the Valley so their losing run is now 27 games straight.

The GNFL’s record losing streak is Irwin’s 29 (1961 to 1963). Regrettably for Mullewa, their next three games are against top four sides.

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