Great rivals meet in first round at Mitiamo
JOHN Forbes Oval is the place for another showdown between fierce footy rivals Mitiamo and Bridgewater in Saturday’s start to the Bendigo Bank Loddon Valley Football Netball League season.
The Superoos and Mean Machine will clash on Mitiamo’s turf from 2.15pm.
Mitiamo was stung by consecutive defeats to Bridgewater last season.
A 49-point win by the Machine in the first semi-final ended the Superoos’ run.
It’s a new-look coaching panel at Mitiamo as Jon Varcoe takes charge.
A key signing for Mitiamo was former Box Hill Hawks midfielder Michael Barnes.
The Superoos also regain 2019 premiership player Dylan Clohesy.
Newcomers at Mitiamo include Mitchell and Ryan Byrne, Tom Campbell, Halen Danziger, Kobe Galvin, Lincon Hocking, Liam Jones, Zachary Morrison, Duncan Proud, Ashley Smith, Rhys Varcoe, and Daniel Walters.
A brilliant run by Bridgewater in last year’s finals series began with victory in the elimination final and rolled through to the grand final.
The Rick Ladson-coached Bridgewater could not stop Marong’s charge to premiership glory.
Bridgewater faces a huge task without premiership-winning star Andy Collins who has returned to Sandhurst and will play a key role in the Dragons’ quest for the Bendigo FNL premiership.
The form of Harry Donegan, Josh Martyn, James and Nick Naughton, Zane Hoiles, Tyler Estrada and Emile Pavlich will be crucial to the Machine’s run.
Refurbishment of Newbridge’s Riverside Oval has meant the Maroons will travel to Calivil for the opening round.
The clash at Calivil Recreation Reserve starts at 2.15pm.
When these clubs met in the 18th round of last season, Newbridge won by 71 points in the Demons’ den.
Best for the Maroons in that contest were Dylan Lloyd, Caleb Argus and Tyler McLeod.
Newbridge has appointed co-coaches in Sam Gale, playing, and Daniel Smith, non-playing.
Both have achieved great success at Harcourt in the Maryborough Castlemaine competition.
Smith coached the Lions to back-to-back premierships in 2006 and ’07.
Key recruits for the Maroons include Angus Fortune, Matt Giri, David Romer and Dylan Stevens.
The play of Corey Van Aken, Chris Dixon and Caleb Sanders could have a major say in Newbridge’s goal to chalk up victory.
Calivil United has regained 2017 premiership-winning coach Anthony Dennis to lead the Demons charge up the ladder.
After just two wins in 2022, Calivil United will be fired up.
A key signing was ruckman Justin Hynes from Marong.
The Demons also welcome back Henry Miller, and have Jack Maher and Thomas Piazza to don the blue and red.
Other players to watch for Calivil United include Blair Richards, Lachlan Brook, Walter Miller and Evan Ritchie.
Inglewood and Bears Lagoon-Serpentine will be determined to mark a winning start when they meet at Inglewood’s Dissy Machinery from 2.15pm.
The Darrell Billett-coached Inglewood was 3-1 after four rounds last season, but then endured a tough run.
Inglewood has gained Fergus Payne from Strathfieldsaye Storm as playing assistant coach.
Other newcomers to the Blues are Sam Dorevitch, Darcy Hogan, Callum March, Cameron Martin and Keelan Payne.
Inglewood’s best for a lot of ’22 included Bregon Cotchett, Charlie Ingham and Charlie McGaw.
The Justin Laird-coached Bears will be desperate to build on last year’s fifth placing.
BLS has bolstered its squad through the signing of Callum Draper from Golden Square, and Kangaroo Flat’s Louis Mott.
Key defender Kyal Zass has crossed from Eaglehawk and will play a crucial role as the Bears will be without Josh Walsh who has taken on an assistant coaching role at Wycheproof Narraport.
Other key players for BLS include Charlie and Harrison Gadsden, Jeremy Hancock, Beau Roy-Clements, Andrew and Steve Gladman, and Miggy Podosky.
It’s a tough initation to Jay McDonald’s coaching stint at Maiden Gully YCW as the Eagles face Marong under the Marist College Oval lights in Maiden Gully from 5.30pm.
McDonald has joined the Eagles after a successful stint at Huntly in the Heathcote DFNL.
Assistant coach will be Damian Wust who joined the Eagles midway through last season.
Wust has plenty of experience from stints at Eaglehawk and Kangaroo Flat.
After a disastrous start to last season, Maiden Gully won four of its last seven matches.
Key recruits for the Eagles include former Eaglehawk and Huntly player Tyler Miles, and Kyle Franzini from Kerang.
Another newcomer for the Eagles is Ryan Sarkady.
Limiting the supply to a powerful Marong attack will be a crucial part of Maiden Gully YCW’s game plan.
The Linton Jacobs-coached Marong has plenty of premiership winners on each line.
It’s been 33 years since the Panthers began a season as reigning premier.
Key recruits at Malone Park are ruckman Michael Bradbury from Quambatook, and key position player Matt Riordan from Colbinabbin.
The reigning champs have lost premiership winners Justin Hynes to Calivil United, and Adam Ward to Wandella.
A formidable line-up includes key forwards Brandyn Grenfell and Kain Robins, captain Corey Gregg, Richard Tibbett, Jimmy Gadsden and Zack Turnbull.
Pyramid Hill must wait until April 15 to start its season.
The Nathan Fitzpatrick-coached Bulldogs will travel to Calivil after the Easter break.
The Bulldogs have been a serious contender in recent years, but are yet to claim the silverware.
Newcomers for the Bulldogs include Declan Slingo from Castlemaine, and Jesse Sheahan from South Bendigo.
The Bulldogs also welcome back Zac Alford, a premiership winner with North Bendigo in 2019, and Jaryd Wishart is also with the red, white and blue.