South Western Times
FEAST OPENS SEASON
Action returns to the SWFL this weekend and fans will be in for a treat, with senior matches spread evenly across a bumper Saturday.
From 11am in the morning until 6.45pm in the evening, fans will be able to enjoy a football feast spanning from Margaret River to Harvey.
In addition, the round two WAFL colts clash between East Perth and Peel Thunder will be held at Gloucester Park after the league clash between Augusta-Margaret River and the Collie Eagles.
Hawks coach Matt Jamieson believes the home fans will notice a few subtle style and personnel changes during Saturday’s opener against the Collie Eagles.
“The guys we have got in are guys we feel are going to have an impact,” he said. “Not just with their ball use, but also how we cover the ground.
“That is a pretty important thing for us.”
Jamieson, who feels home form is critical, knows a solid opening showing against the Eagles would give his men an ideal lead-in to Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault in round two.
“No matter who you play first up, it is going to be a challenge,” he said. “Winning form is good form at home and hopefully we can do that and start the season well.”
Another man who is optimistic heading into Saturday is South Bunbury coach Stephen Bilcich, who feels his side has a great opportunity
to win on the road at VC Mitchell Park against Donnybrook.
“They are always strong out there,” Bilcich said.
“I am not really sure who they have got, but I can imagine they will be fairly strong with the ins that they have, along with who they normally have got.
“So I am looking forward to a real test — we always seem to have good games against Donnybrook.”
The Dons faithful will also pay tribute to one of their favourite sons, with Chris Atthowe set to play his 200th SWFL game.
In Busselton, the Magpies’ impressive home form will be tested when Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault and new recruit Jarrod Humphries come to town.
The Magpies beat the Lions in
Brunswick last year, but this year’s encounter will be a litmus test for the home side, and for Matt Welburn, who appears most likely to be given the assignment on Humphries.
The premiers also face a stern test in their first game of the season, with Eaton heading to Payne Park.
The Boomers were bundled out of the finals by a stunning last quarter of footy by the Collie Eagles and are a bit of an unknown commodity heading into round one.
Carey Park make the trip up to Harvey this week and will do so with a fresh face in their midfield and on the bench.
Ethan Maguire followed his dad and coach Brett to the Panthers this season and forms an all-star cast in the midfield with Sandover medallist Rory O’Brien and young ruckman Zane Verhaaf, who Brett Maguire says looks fitter than ever. Round one fast facts
The Harvey Bulls’ last win in the SWFL was in round one, 2019, against Bunbury.
Augusta-Margaret River have won their last three matches against the Collie Eagles.
Busselton was the only team to defeat Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault twice last season.
South Bunbury’s bid for a third consecutive undefeated season begins away at Donnybrook.
And in a chilling warning for rival clubs, South captain Bethany Bond believes the team “has trained a lot harder” under Maxwell Jetta over summer.
“Our pre-season has been really tough,” she said. “I think it has been definitely harder than the few years — we have upped it for sure — and it really showed against South Mandurah in our first game, where it was all about getting our match fitness back again.
“Against HBL, I thought we played really well, especially because we have a lot of young girls coming through.”
Bond, who works in the fitness industry full-time, believes Jetta has instilled a desire to leave no stone unturned at Tigerland.
“I think Max really upped the ante this year,” she said. “He made sure there was no stuffing around and that we were straight into it, doing extras as well.
“So before training, we would do suicide sprints as soon as we got there. We all did them up and back on our own and then we started kicking after that.”
While all focus is on round one, Bond would love to see her close friend, Fremantle Dockers AFLW talent Katie-Jayne Grieve, return to the Tigers after her WAFLW season concludes with Peel Thunder.
“It’s funny — I was actually thinking the other day that I should give her a call and ask her to come down,” Bond said.
“But she has been really helpful and drawn out some drills for me.
“But the next step is to try and get her down for a game or two for sure.”
Bunbury will begin life under Michelle Harris when they host the Eaton Boomers, with a number of new recruits in line to make their debut for the Bulldogs.
The visitors will be without 2020 best and fairest Kira Price, who has relocated to Victoria, however, skipper Trinity Brown and Jessica Ruland are more than capable of stepping up in big games.
In other matches, Busselton entertain Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault at Sir Stewart Bovell Park, while the Harvey Bulls are red-hot favourites to open with a win against Carey Park.
Round one fast facts
South Bunbury’s last loss in the women’s competition was on September 9, 2018, in the preliminary final against the Harvey Bulls.
Speaking of the Bulls, they have won three of their last four games at home and have never lost to Carey Park there.
The Eaton Boomers have never kicked than one goal in all matches against Bunbury since 2018.