April 12/13 Previews
DIVISION 1 - ROUND 1 PREVIEW
with Good Will Hunter
Gee, time flies,†doesn't†it?
It seems like only yesterday that St Pauls and East Brighton were facing off in the 2013 premiership decider. Now all of a sudden they are lining up again to kick off the 2014 SFL season.
The Doggies were the ones to claim the silverware, defeating the Vampires by 23 points in last yearís Grand Final. Congratulations to everyone at the Kennel on an outstanding season and a well-earned premiership.
Congratulations also to Bentleigh, who were the standout side in Division Two in 2013. The reigning premiers fully deserve their promotion into the higher grade and Iím sure they will be more than up to the standard of Division One football this year.
But when one door opens, another must close. After a year of disappointing on-field results, Highett have been relegated to second division. But with a young list Iím sure the Bulldogs will show some significant improvement and have more success in Division Two.
East Brighton vs St Pauls
The highlight of round one is the highly-anticipated Grand Final rematch between East Brighton and St Pauls. This match is sure to be an absolute belter between two of the powerhouses of the SFL and itís a pretty safe bet that these two sides will again be in the thick of the action in late September. Both teams have incredibly strong midfields, and this is where the game will be won or lost. After a scintillating seven-goal haul in last yearís decider, Luke James remains the X-factor and capable of swinging the game in the Doggiesí favour. However, the Vampires are a fantastic side and I donít think they will lose too many at home - East Brighton in a thriller.
St Kilda City vs Bentleigh
This is shaping to be another ripping contest. The Demons will be keen to announce their arrival in Division One with a big scalp first up. St Kilda City will not be pushovers, however, and should come out all guns blazing after spending the last six months stewing on their one-point elimination final defeat at the hands of Chelsea Heights in the dying seconds of extra time. This could go either way, but Iím tipping St Kilda City to get the points at Peanut Farm.
Dingley vs East Malvern
Dingley were terrific last season, winning 15 matches before going down to eventual premier St Pauls in the preliminary final. They comprehensively beat East Malvern in both encounters in 2013, a year in which the Panthers struggled for consistency. I expect the Dingoes to start their season in style with a convincing win at home.
Clayton vs Cheltenham
This should be a tight contest between two very evenly matched sides. Both teams missed the finals by percentage alone last season and will be desperate to see September action in 2014. But after some good recruiting in the offseason, I think the Rosellasí tall forwards will prove too much for the Clays to handle and they should start their season with a solid win on the road.
Heatherton vs Chelsea Heights
The AFL refuses to do it (for the time being at least), but Good Friday football is alive and well in the SFL with Heatherton hosting Chelsea Heights. The Tunners had a season to forget in 2013, finishing ninth with just two wins (both against the winless Highett).The Heighters, semi-finalists last season, will be looking to advance further into September this year and should easily account for the hosts.
Best of luck to all clubs in what is sure to be a tremendous year of Southern League footy.
DIVISION 2 -†ROUND 1 PREVIEW
with Jason Barbin
Itís back! After a summer of scorching temperatures and the Aussies giving the poms a serious beat down, footy is back in town and Division 2 of the Southern Football League is ready to get down to business as 10 teams get set to battle it out for the 2014 Premiership Flag.
In 2013, it was Bentleigh who claimed the flag against Mordialloc and they will head up to Division 1 while Highett is the team that drops down to join Division 2. After a perfect undefeated season, the Doveton Eagles make their way up to Division 2 as they hope to remain competitive and avoid dropping back down. After failing to win a game in 2013, South Yarra drop down to Division 3 for this season.
As the 2014 season begins, a few interesting games highlight the opening round of the season.
Caulfield vs Doveton Eagles
The reigning 2013 Division 3 premiers take on the Bears in what shapes to be a hard fought round 1 contest. The Eagles look to maintain their winning streak into the new season while Caulfield look to improve on a disappointing 2013 season. Both teams brought in several players over the off-season who will look to make an impact early on. Should be a close one.
Doveton Eagles by 16 points
Oakleigh District vs Springvale Districts
The two districts take on each other in what always shapes up to be an exciting contest. Springvale will be looking to avenge the two losses they had to Oakleigh in 2013. Oakleigh on the other hand, come into the 2014 season as one of the teams to keep a close eye on. After being knocked out in the Prelims by a solitary point in 2013, the Oaks will be looking to go all the way this year, something they have been striving for for too long. Another close one.
Oakleigh District by 10 points
Highett vs Mordialloc
The Dogs and the Bloods provides another exciting contest to open the 2014 season. The Bloods will be hungry after coming close to victory in the 2013 grand final and they will be a premiership favourite to keep an eye on. Highett come down from Division 1 after a disappointing 2013 season but the return of Sasha Danilovic and the inclusion of ex Oakleigh utility Elvis Alimovski should provide the Dogs with some serious firepower up forward. But it may not be enough.
Mordialloc by 5 points
Moorabbin Kangaroos vs Murrumbeena
Moorabbin come into the 2014 season looking to improve on a promising 2013 season that saw them win 6 games. Murrumbeena are coming off yet another finals appearance and look to improve upon their 5th place finish in 2013. The loss of Jake Semmel and Daniel Willis will hurt the club but expect the Beena to come out swinging as they look to consolidate last seasonís performance.
Murrumbeena by 26 points
Skye vs Hampton
Another exciting contest as two teams looking to break into the finals go head to head in round 1. The Bombers fell a game short last season and with several quality inclusions into their club, the Bombers will make a run at a top 5 spot. The Hammers have also had several players join the club and will look to reach double digit wins in 2014. Potential upset.
Skye by 17 points
DIVISION 3 -†ROUND 2 PREVIEW
Looking forward to round 2, Lyndale hosts Dandenong at Barry Powell Reserve and the Pumas will fancy their chances against the Redlegs.
Endeavour Hills will strive for two wins in a row when Hallam visits Barry Simon Reserve. This will be a good battle of the birds, with the Hawks still smarting after a loss.
At Fritsch Holzer Park, South Yarra will need to stay focused to beat Black Rock. The Jets will be disappointed after challenging their opponents in round 1, but not receiving the points.
Mt Waverley will welcome Ashwood to Mayfield Reserve, and is unlikely to have things all its own way this round. The Magpies will be out to bounce back to winning form and it will be interesting to see how the Mountain Lions respond if they are seriously challenged.
After scraping home in its first game, Carrum Patterson Lakes will be determined to win more easily at home, when Sandown visits Roy Dore Reserve. It is a tough game for Sandown after a home loss, and the Cobras will need to be at their best to beat the Lions.
UNDER 19S - ROUND 1 PREVIEW
with Josh Schoanfinger
Six months of toil, sweat, celebrations and regrets are over, and we can finally get into the 2014 season of SFL Under 19 footy!
Congratulations to Murrumbeena, who won a heart-stopping Grand Final against Bentleigh by two points. Unfortunately, we wonít be seeing them defend their crown in the Under 19s this season. There are other personnel changes too - Highett and Cheltenham have joined to make it a ten-team competition.
Under 19 newbie Highett begin against St Pauls, who finished a respectable fifth last season. With a bigger league this season itís imperative to get off to a flyer.
Skye finished in second last year, and have an opening fixture against Chelsea Heights, who will be keen to ensure they are no push-over.
Despite finishing at the foot of the ladder in 2013, thereís the opportunity for Clayton to start off in good fashion against new boys Cheltenham.
Hampton travel to Dingley to commence Round One, and both sides will be disappointed with their finish to 2013. Finals is on the radar for both outfits and nobody wants to be 0-1.
Finally itís Carrum Patterson Lakes who play Bentleigh to round out the first weekend of footy. As mentioned, Bentleighís narrow final loss should inspire them to go one better in 2014.
It promises to be a fantastic season of football - itís far too difficult to pick a winner! Good luck to every team for the upcoming season!
THIRDS - ROUND 1 PREVIEW
Itís that time of year again where we ditch the cricket whites for the colours of your SFL team, and not a moment too soon!
The Thirds competition will look a little different this season, with teams from Black Rock, Endeavour Hills and Clayton joining in the action, while losing the Chelsea Heights outfit.
Congratulations to last yearís premiers, Dingley, who had a 13 point victory over Mount Waverley all the way back in September.
The reigning champions start their defence at home to Dandenong, who will be gunning for an early upset.
Mount Waverley play Doveton and will be as toey as a Roman sandal to get back on the field, in order to make amends for last seasonís narrow GF loss.
South Yarra missed the finals last season, and take on new Thirds outfit Black Rock. Both sides will have plenty to play for, the Lions wanting to improve on 2013 and the Jets will undoubtedly want to make an immediate impact on the competition.
Hallam took the wooden spoon last season, and begin their 2014 with a trip to Endeavour Hills. Getting off to a good start is going to be crucial for both sides.
Skye meet Cerberus in a battle between last yearís top two home-and-away sides; bizarrely neither made the grand final however. It shows how tough grand finals are to make, let alone to win.
Clayton play host to Cheltenham and Sandown are at Moorabbin in the final games for Round One.
Best of luck for all sides ahead of their 2014 campaigns!