Western Crusaders are a wrecking crew in the Gridiron Victoria competition. The Crusaders have qualified for a fourth straight Vic Bowl and will be seeking a third consecutive title. Not since the 2016 Vic Bowl have the Crusaders been beaten.
The Craig Wilson-coached team is looking to make it three seasons undefeated when they face Monash Warriors in the 2019 Vic Bowl at Casey Fields on Sunday.
“We’re through, so that’s exciting,” Wilson said.
“If we win this one, it will be three undefeated seasons in a row, which is pretty special.”
Western Crusaders showed no mercy in a 54-6 beatdown of Croydon Rangers in the preliminary final at Henry Turner Reserve on Saturday.
The Crusaders have been ruthless both offensively and defensively with numbers statistically better than the previous two seasons.
No matter how good the Crusaders have been this season, it will count for little when the coin is tossed before the Vic Bowl.
“We’ve got a big week of work ahead of us to make sure we’re ready to go,” Wilson said.
“We’ll be looking at the film, we’ll be training and we’ll make sure we’re mentally and physically in top condition.
“The Warriors are a team that’s been to the big dance a lot of times in the past.
“They’ve got a lot of players that know how to win the big games too.
“You’ve got to do everything you can and leave nothing unsaid or undone if you’re going to win these big games.”
Western Crusaders have the right mix to climb to the top of the mountain again.
The Crusaders have enough experienced campaigners to guide the youngsters and enough youngsters to keep enthusiasm levels high.
They also have a quarterback in Ryan Deal who is in top form.
Deal played a starring role in the Crusaders’ win over Croydon. “He had a high completion percentage,” Wilson said.
“He throws the short ball well, he throws the deep ball well, he was very good today.
“He’s a very classy player, manages the game well, a very mature head and knows how to win the big games.”
Running back Rohail Akhtar is nigh on impossible to stop.
“He broke off a couple of 60-yard runs today,” Wilson said.
“When you rip open a defence like that, it makes a bit of a statement.”
Aris Hua and Tyson Garnham were reliable targets for the Crusaders. Simeon Tuilagi was brilliant defensively and brought the crowd to life with a pick-six.
Western Crusaders will have three teams involved on Vic Bowl day.
The Crusaders women’s team won through to the decider on Sunday with a 27-6 win over Croydon.
The under 19s also advanced to the big dance with a 28-8 win over Casey Spartans.