Roos’ run to continue

SEASON STARTS. Reigning E.H. Hunt Medallist, Tom Isma and his Ultima teammates will begin their Golden Rivers Football League title defence against Macorna tomorrow.
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REIGNING Golden Rivers Football League premiers, Ultima will be looking to chalk up a unique statistic with an opening round win against Macorna tomorrow.

If Luke O’Toole’s men win their first match of the season, it will mean the side has won its past 18 consecutive games – effectively going through a whole year undefeated.

The Roos last lost in round two, 2014 – the club’s opening match of the season – and the Tigers will be looking to stop the premiers’ run.

Ultima has kept the majority of its premiership team, adding Mitcham under 19 player, Lachlan Button to its line-up.

This stability will be beneficial to the club’s aim of successive flags.

On the other hand, Macorna has been busy during the summer period, with club personnel working hard to develop a team capable of breaking a 45-year premiership drought.

New coach, Wayne Ladson and his recruiters have been able to bolster the side’s forward and midfield options.

Former Central Murray Football Netball League leading goalkicker, Brett Collins will play for the Tigers in 2015, as well as Matthew Ladson, who returns after a stint with Strathfieldsaye.

Regan Williams and Joel Woolhouse left during the pre-season, but the club is confident their new recruits will be up to the challenge.

Those going to this match could see reigning E.H. Hunt medallist, Ultima midfielder Tom Isma, battle with Ladson, with O’Toole and Tigers talisman, Wayne Mitrovic to battle it out for another match.

The Tigers back line, led by Mathew Trigg and Warren Ellwood, will also need to stop the ball reaching the variety of avenues the home side boasts in front of goal, ranging from tall option Stewart Broussard, rover Jarrod Rogers and playmaker Kyle Symons.

The Tigers failed to get within seven goals of Ultima last year, but a closer encounter may occur tomorrow.

PREDICTION: Ultima will record an 18th consecutive win with a 30-point victory.

Rivals’ night strike

ONE of the most anticipated GRFL opening round encounters in the past decade will start after the opening three games of the season have finished.

A large crowd is anticipated to watch Murrabit and Wandella’s historic night encounter, with the local rivals certain to provide an entertaining spectacle.

The home side will be looking to rebound from a poor 2014, which resulted in two wins and an eight-place finish.

Despite losing forward, James Murphy and defender, Callan Randall during the pre-season, Blues coach Nathan Henry is confident that the club’s new batch of recruits will guide the side back to finals contention.

These new players – led by Alan Egan, Sheldon Nelly and Michael Wall – have shown in the club’s two pre-season hit-outs that they can filter between the midfield and forward line.

Wandella will go in to the match after a season to remember in 2014, bouncing back from missing the finals in 2013 to finishing as preliminary finalists.

The Bombers picked up former premiership player, Peter Morris during the pre-season, who will coach the side in 2015.

However, missing from line-up that took the field in the preliminary final loss to Nullawil are ruckman Joel Osbrough and utilities Nick Farley and Mitch Treacy.

Tomorrow night will also mark the return of one of the most talked-about match-ups within the GRFL.

After one year of reprieve, Henry will face off against returning Bomber, Tim Robinson across Murrabit’s half-forward line.

The battles between the veteran Blue and the GRFL and Central Murray Football Netball League premiership defender have mesmerised crowds for the past five years, and another exciting chapter will be added tomorrow.

PREDICTION: Wandella will open its 2015 season with a 25-point win.

Maroons, Saints seek perfect beginning

NULLAWIL and Quambatook will be looking to begin season 2015 in positive fashion tomorrow.

The Maroons are one of the sides tipped to challenge for the premiership come September, and will be buoyed by the return of key players from injury.

The only confirmed player missing from the 2014 grand final side will be Geordan McLoughlan, who will play for Donald in 2015.

The challenge of playing a consistent top-three side to open the season will be something new Saints coach, Steve Reeves will look forward to.

The Saints may have lost forward Paul Messer and youngsters, Dylan McGrath and Zac Wandin during the pre-season, but a number of new players will give the club hope for a return to finals action.

One player to watch for the Saints tomorrow will be Palmerston recruit Brodie Bennett, who spent the past few months playing alongside former AFL players Alwyn Davey, Daniel Motlop, Shannon Motlop, Marlon Motlop and Liam Patrick.

Another highlight will be the battle between Nullawil forward duo, Sean Bedggood and Kal Heslop, and Quambatook defenders, Luke Parker and Ash Davis.

The Maroons hold a 14-match winning streak against the Saints, which should expand to 15 tomorrow.

PREDICTION: Nullawil should win by 30 points.

Southern battle

WAKOOL and Moulamein – two teams whose recruiters have been busy behind the scenes during the pre-season – will meet for bragging rights tomorrow.

The home side will go in to the match against its southern New South Wales rivals as favourites, despite the loss of its Picola and Mathoura contingent.

The group, which includes six 2013 premiership players – have returned home, impacting on the side’s back line.

The contingent included Callum Harding Davis, Justin Hartshorn and Ashley Neal – all who were capable of holding some of the competition’s major goalkickers.

Despite this, the Hawks have boosted their midfield, thanks to the return of premiership midfielder, Ben Jones, and forward, Tyson Webb.

Add in the recruitment of Mernda premiership forward David Hutchinson – who will link up with reigning leading league goalkicker, Luke Kirkland and former Melbourne player, Paul Wheatley – and attack may be the new form of defense for Locky Gleeson’s men.

Moulamein will take to the field tomorrow with a new-look side, with the club aiming to bounce back after a one-victory year in 2014.

Peter Spinks role as coach, as well as his past links at Tooleybuc/Manangatang, played a role in securing former Central Murray Football Netball League Rookie of the Year Jack Spinks, Joshua Standen, as well as Cody Wilkins and Ricky Wilkins to the club.

These players, as well as the recruitment of James Maney (Koondrook/Barham), Michael Morson and James White (both from Wakool), will easily cover the loss of key defender, Colin Keatch.

The Hawks won by more than 10 goals on each occasion these sides met last year. A closer result may be on the cards tomorrow.

PREDICTION: Wakool should win by 40 points.

* HAY has the bye, and will open its season at Macorna on April 18.

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