Season Launch Previews

DIVISION 1 - Season Launch Preview

With Good Will Hunter


DINGLEY vs ST PAULS (Trevor Barker Oval, Sandringham)

Sunday 10th April

Dingley V St Pauls


Listen live on 88.3 Southern FM or via

88.3 Southern FM SFNL Live_Logo_RGB

The SFNL Division 1 season finally gets underway on Sunday afternoon with a stand-alone blockbuster between reigning premiers Dingley and a rejuvenated St Pauls.

The Dingoes swept all before them in a dominant 2015 campaign, and were crowned the SFNL Division 1 champions after easily accounting for the in-form Mordialloc in the premiership decider.

St Pauls, however, overcame a slow start to the year and, despite numerous injuries to key personnel, stormed into the 2015 finals series on the back of 10 wins in their last 11 home and away games. Unfortunately, the Bloods had their measure in the Elimination Final.

The Dingoes have lost a few of last year’s premiership stars, including Meneilly Medallist Jackson Peet and gun forward Dean Francis, among a bevy of off-season departures that may see the side’s depth tested at times this year. But nevertheless, Dingley should remain a very powerful outfit in 2016, especially through the additions of Ryan Stewart (Chelsea), Chris Morgan (Sorrento), Chris Milne and Josh Ferguson (both Noble Park).

The Dogs meanwhile pulled off one of the biggest recruit coups of the off-season in coach Richard Houston. Houston is one of the League’s most successful coaches of all time, winning four premierships (and once runner up) during his five seasons in the SFNL with St Kilda City and Parkmore.

Along with Houston comes a host of new recruits, including former VFL livewire Justin Berry, ex-Catani big man Nick Shannon and Hampton Rovers pair Jay Ting and Josh Verlin. All of these players should help off-set the losses of Nick Gilbert, Brendan Dawes, Peter Mercoulia and Ryan Kitchin among others.

There has been plenty of discussion as to how the high-profile Berry in particular will perform in the Southern League, with many predicting him to take the competition by storm. Regardless, he looms as a key weapon in attack for the Dogs this year alongside the dangerous Travis Ridgway, and will prove a handful for the Dingoes’ defence on Sunday.

Reigning Ellis Medallist Liam Willson is a superstar of the competition and will also need to fire if the Dogs are to get over the line. A genuine ball magnet, Wilson regularly wins possessions in the tightest of spaces and can be devastating busting out of the packs with pill in hand.

You can also bank on solid contributions from newly-appointed skipper Harley Ambrose and elite defender Kieran Knox.

We saw last season the introduction of some of St Pauls’ talented youngsters, and Houston has already hinted that there may be an injection of youth into his team for the season opener and beyond. On that basis, there could be some exciting times ahead at the Kennel.

But Dingley has plenty of game winners of its own and two keys to their superiority will again be Dan Farmer and Stu Cleeve.

Farmer especially is the player St Pauls will look to curb the influence of as he can turn a game in minutes. A forward-cum-midfielder, Farmer only needs a sniff to inflict some serious scoreboard damage and is capable of racking up big numbers of possessions and kicking multiple goals.

The big fella Cleeve had a stellar debut season at the Den last year, and will likely provide his midfielders with first use of the ball through his sublime tap ruckwork.

The Dingoes back line has also proved tough to penetrate in recent seasons, and St Pauls will have their work cut out to kick a winning score. Super-stopper Tom Wright and the versatile Andrew Frost are rarely beaten, and can make life tough for any forward. Meanwhile skipper Tony Lavars and the hard-running Matt Morwood are dangerous on the rebound and often launch devastating counter-attacks off half back.

In addition, Dingley will be advantaged by their familiarity with Trevor Barker Oval, a venue St Pauls are yet to play at. They used the open spaces particularly well in the Season Launch match last year, and their superior run and spread helped them to a 44-point win over East Brighton. The ground is not too dissimilar to their home at Souter Oval and will allow them to play their natural game.

This will be a tremendous game to usher in the new season as you can always expect a good contest between these two sides. There is no doubt they will both give this game a red hot crack and although the defending champions will start as favourites, anything can happen first up.

I’m expecting hard-fought footy, plenty of fireworks and a Dingoes victory.


DIVISION 2 – Round 1 Preview

With Jason Barbin


Southern Football Netball League Division 2 action kicks off this week and for 10 clubs, months of hard work on the training track will be put to the test in round one.

With 11 teams in the competition and three new teams to Division 2 (Chelsea Heights, Black Rock and Port Melbourne Colts) the competition is set to be closer than ever and with only five finals spots up for grabs, early wins will be imperative for every club hoping to be there on that one last day in September.

Can Murrumbeena avenge last year’s grand final defeat to Oakleigh Districts or will Chelsea Heights hit the front with a barrage of big name recruits? Can the SFNL’s newest side do some early damage or will the likes of the Bears, Burras, Hammers or Bombers go one step further and play in the Grand Final?

Who will fight it out to avoid the wooden spoon? Can Heatherton improve on a disappointing 2015 season or will it be Springvale Districts who rise up the ladder? What can Black Rock do in its first season in Division 2 for a number of years?

And what about those boys from Highett, the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde team of the last few years? Can they finally break through for a finals appearance?

All those questions and more will be answered as the season progresses so without further ado let’s get started with Round 1 match-ups.


KEYSBOROUGH vs SKYE (Keysborough Reserve)

Keysborough V Skye

Both sides hold finals aspirations going into the season and a Round 1 win will be on top of their wish lists. Both sides provided spectators with enthralling matches last year and I have no doubt this will be the same. Burra should be too strong at home, however.

Keysborough by 13 points.



Caulfield V Chelsea Heights

The Bears and the Heighters go head-to-head in one of the more intriguing Round 1 clashes with both sides looking to impress early in the season. The Bears are not a team to be underestimated but the big name recruits that have come back to the Demons may be enough to secure a victory.

Chelsea Heights by five points.


BLACK ROCK vs HAMPTON (McDonald Reserve)

Black Rock V Hampton

The boys from Black Rock come up against an old rival in Hampton and will be keen to grab their first win in division two. After barely missing out on finals last season, the Hammers will need to grab early wins to put itself in a position to contend in 2016. But is there an early upset on the cards?

Black Rock by two points.



Port Colts V Murrumbeena

Easily the game of the round for me, the new boys in blue (and red) go up against last year’s runners-up in an important game for both sides. The Colts will out and about and eager to prove their strength but Murrumbeena will be on the prowl and as always, tough defensively.

Murrumbeena by 10 points.


HEATHERTON vs SPRINGVALE DISTRICTS (Heatherton Recreation Reserve)

Heatherton V Springvale Districts

Could this be an early battle between the two potential wooden spoon sides? Only time will tell but if either side is going to avoid relegation this year then they need that all important round one victory. Which side can start 2016 on the right foot?

Heatherton by 18 points.


With the bye first up, don’t be surprised if you run into any of the boys from the Kennel down in Highett checking out some Round 1 action.


DIVISION 3 – Round 1 Peview

With Andrew Paloczi


After all the pre-season recruiting, planning and training it is finally time to bounce the footy and get the 2016 SFNL season underway.

Welcome to new senior team, Lyndhurst Lightning and welcome back to the Doveton Eagles after a couple of seasons in Division 2.

Congratulations to Black Rock on an excellent 2015 season that culminated in a deserved premiership, and best of luck for this season and the new challenges it brings.



Moorabbin V Dandenong

Dandenong's coach, Glenn Jose aims for the Redlegs to become more consistently competitive this season. He had a tough initiation at the club last year with his team coming eleventh and winning just a couple of games.

Playing away against 2015 preliminary finalist Moorabbin provides a great opportunity to demonstrate what progress has been made over the offseason, whilst the pressure will be on new Kangaroos’ coach, David Velt to take the team to even greater heights this year.

Expect Dandenong to improve, but the Kangaroos should be too strong by a few goals.


LYNDALE vs SOUTH YARRA (Barry Powell Reserve)

Lyndale V South Yarra

Playing at home, Lyndale will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing eighth last season. Opponent, South Yarra finished just a rung higher, and this should be an intriguing battle with both sides making fresh starts with new coaches.

The man in charge at Lyndale, Brad Bruni, has achieved his aim of boosting numbers at the club.

His counterpart at South Yarra, Darren Stegehuis, brings plenty of coaching experience with him and is expected to make some structural and cultural changes.

Lyndale appears to have recruited well and should get the job done by about five goals.


LYNDHURST vs HALLAM (Marriott Waters Reserve)




Listen live on 88.3 Southern FM or via

88.3 Southern FM SFNL Live_Logo_RGB

This shapes as an interesting clash with new senior team Lyndhurst Lightning taking on Hallam, which finished tenth last year.

There will be plenty of young talent on display for both sides.

It should be a close contest with the emotion of the occasion and the home ground advantage giving Lightning a narrow first-up win.




Doveton Eagles V Sandown Cobras

Doveton Eagles were outstanding in their most recent season in Division 3, going through 2013 without a loss. They play Sandown, a side that slipped to ninth last season.

Corrie Wilson, the Doveton Eagles’ 2013 premiership captain is still playing for the club, but has taken on the responsibility of coaching.

Sandown coach, Rick Bean enters his second season in charge with hopes of the Cobras being far more competitive this year.

Doveton will keep its Division 3 winning streak going with a home win by a couple of majors.


ASHWOOD vs ENDEAVOUR HILLS (Essex Heights Reserve)

Ashwood V Endeavour Hills

This promises to be an intriguing contest between Ashwood, which tasted finals action in 2015, and the team that it edged out of the five, Endeavour Hills.

The return of Magpies skipper, Paul Wineberg, who missed last season’s finals through injury, will be a huge boost for the side.

As for the Falcons, it will be great to see what much-heralded recruit Jack Gibb brings in terms of playing ability and leadership.

It looks like another close one. Let's say Ashwood by five points.



Mount Waverley V Carrum Patterson Lakes

Mount Waverley's inspirational player and co-captain, Jarrod Wilkin may have handed the coaching reigns back to Nick Smith, but he will still show plenty of leadership on the field as the Mountain Lions take on rival Carrum Patterson Lakes.

Former CPL player, Andrew Hayley is back from a couple of years’ teaching in Oman and has taken on the coaching position.

This will be a fantastic match and realistically could go either way, but sticking with the approach of backing the home teams in this round, Mount Waverley will scrape home by a solitary behind.


UNDER 19 – Season Launch Preview

With Alex Charles


DINGLEY vs ST PAULS (Trevor Barker Oval, Sandringham)

Sunday 10th April

Dingley V St Pauls

We are very fortunate to have a game between two great sides at Trevor Barker Oval to commemorate the SFNL’s Season Launch. The game is significant for the competition as it is a standalone game at a VFL venue and it’s a great opportunity, not only for both sides in preparation for the season, but for the Under 19s as a whole to gain exposure. So don’t miss the opportunity to catch many of the SFNL’s future stars in this game, especially with Dingley’s spearhead Madison Talarico likely to take the field.

As for the remaining teams, well they can put their feet up for one more week before they launch their 2016 campaigns.

League Partners