NCFL Round 1 Preview


Nullawil on home turf to tackle Bulls

PRELIMINARY finalists in ’23, Nullawil and Birchip-Watchem meet in this Saturday’s first round of senior footy action in the Goldacres North Central competition.

It’s a new era for Nullawil as Darryl Wilson, a triple premiership-winning coach at Strathfieldsaye Storm and also a three-time winner at Colbinabbin takes charge.

The Maroons take on the Bulls from 2.30pm.

Last September it was the Brett Barker-coached Nullawil which marked its first year in the NCFL by reaching the grand final where it was beaten by Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers.

A great run by the Maroons included a 13-point win against Birchip-Watchem in the preliminary final.

Wilson is joined at Nullawil by Hunter Lawrence, a premiership player with Strathfieldsaye Storm, and Nick Keogh from Kangaroo Flat.

A huge coup for the Maroons was the recruitment of Swan Hill on-baller Matthew Wade, a multiple winner of the Central Murray league’s fairest and best award.

The Trevor Ryan-coached Birchip-Watchem landed one of the biggest recruiting coups of recent years when Sandhurst ruckman Hamish Hosking signed on.

Other recruits for the Bulls include Stefan Pye from Ballan, Woorinen’s Angus Butterfield, Daniel Bell from Warrack Eagles, and Meyrick Buchanan from University Blues.

A joint winner of the Feeny Medal as league fairest and best in ’23, Nicholas Rippon is a star for the Bulls.

Other players to watch for Birchip-Watchem include Lachy Foott, Dale Hinkley, Sam Simmons and gun forward Ben Edwards.

Donald is at home to tackle Wycheproof-Narraport.

The Royals will be determined to hit back after a 28-point loss to Nullawil in last year’s first semi-final.

Newcomers to Donald include Dale Kerr from Grovedale Tigers, Warrack Eagles’ Patrick Morgan, and Minyip Murtoa’s George Morgan.

The Royals also have Ryley Barrack, captain Hayden Geddes, Ryan Hards and Josh Potter capable of winning plenty of contests.

At Wycheproof-Narraport it’s Wayne Mitrovic who returns as senior coach.

A premiership winner with the Demons in 2010, Mitrovic brings plenty of experience to the role.

Among the many career highs was being captain of Sandhurst’s premiership team in 2004.

Most recent coaching stint for Mitrovic was at Maiden Gully YCW Eagles in the Loddon Valley FNL.

A new-look attack for Wycheproof-Narraport includes Josh and Nick Grabowski from Geelong Amateur and East Keilor respectively.

Hard-running midfielder Steve Kennedy from Alton is a player to watch, along with Jack Marlais and Maysen Murgov.

Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers will unfurl the ’23 premiership flag before they take on Boort.

The Bryce Delmenico and Billy McInnes-coached Tigers capped an unbeaten run to glory last September.

Newcomers to the SLN squad include Jordan Humphrey from Royal Park, and Adam Pattison from Montrose.

A formidable line-up in the yellow and black is brilliantly led by Ryan O’Sullivan; Joel, Kane and Wade Donnan; key forward Josh Jenkins and Brody Weir.

Among the highs of the Tigers charge in ’23 was Trent Donnan being a winner of the Feeny Medal.

Tough task first-up for the Dale Cameron-coached Boort in Tigers’ territory.

The Magpies’ recruiting spree netted Sebastapol’s Matt Austin, Jhye Baddeley-Kelly from North Heidelberg, Wade Broadstock from Colbinabbin, Castlemaine’s Malachi Coleman, and Jade Dick from Wests.

Boort’s attack is strengthened by the arrival of Will Perryman who was leading goalkicker for Pyramid Hill in the run to last season’s Loddon Valley grand final.

Other key players for the Magpies include Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Natnael McLaren and Keiren Wilson.

After a stint at Cohuna Kangas, Tom Metherell marks his coaching debut in Wedderburn’s clash at St Arnaud.

Metherell is a triple premiership player at North Bendigo.

The Redbacks will be determined to improve on last year’s win-loss tally of 7-9 and sixth placing.

Players to have joined Metherell at Wedderburn include Anthony and Michael Zelencich from Carisbrook, and Kangaroo Flat’s Noah Furlong.

The Redbacks have the experience of Danny Benaim, Jordan Hargreaves, Adam Postle and Tom Campbell.

There’s also the Holts- Louis, Oscar and Rhordan.

St Arnaud will be coached by Scott Driscoll who was with Jeparit-Rainbow last season.

Newcomers for the Saints include Brayden and Zac Phillips from Eagles in the South Australia NFL, Bailey Nicholas from Sale, and Ryan Lempa from East Geelong.

They will team up with Torin Petrie, Mitch Egan, Jacob Tillig, Harley Durward and captain Kurtis Torney.

Charlton has the bye.

The Mitch Collins-coached Navies will play at Boort in round two on April 20.