FOOTBALL is back in the Adelaide Plains and, once again, fans can expect high intensity and strong skills.
After taking out the flag last year, all eyes will be on Mallala to see what it comes up with – however, a tight race to the premiership is anticipated.
Bunyip sports journalist Steph Konatar has previewed the opening round clashes.
Virginia v Two Wells
In what is the grudge match of the round, Two Wells will be looking for revenge after last year’s preliminary final loss to Virginia.
The match was the Roosters’ best for the season, after building momentum late in the year, and coach Neville Seccafien hopes to get some early scoreboard pressure going against the Rams and carry that strong form into the rest of the season.
“You never get an easy game against Virginia – they would’ve recruited quite well, as they always do,” he said.
“We’re playing at Virginia, where we traditionally play well – it’s a bigger ground, so there’s more space.
“That’s going to be our aim – our ability to carry the ball, ability to kick to targets, and penetrate.”
New Rams’ coach Jamie Thomas said the club is in a good spot and is feeling confident against the Roosters, but added the match is a bit of an unknown.
“It’s one of those things, you don’t really know what to expect until you’re there,” he said.
“Two Wells, I know they’ve recruited well, there are some quality players, but I know we’ve recruited fairly well (too).”
United v Mallala
United has been talking up its recruits in the off-season and this will be the ultimate test for them, coming up against the reigning premiers, Mallala.
The Magpies have lost some quality players, but, in turn, have picked up some talent to fill the holes.
Coach Steve Lubcke will be hoping recruit Sam Clements, a former Port Adelaide reserves player, will be a devastating force.
United has lost Matthew Cragg-Sapsford, who has retired, but there is a buzz around the club after picking up Tim Meulendyks and Mitchell Sandery.
Tigers’ coach Matthew Krieg, now in his second year, will be encouraging his charges to play attacking and fast-moving footy.
HW Eagles v Balaklava
Hummocks-Watchman and Balaklava will both be looking for a big improvement this year, after failing to reach the high standard the top three sides set in 2016.
The Eagles have picked a number of key recruits and new coach Josh Gould said he will also put faith in his younger players this season.
Balaklava is another side which has seen a decent turnover this summer, losing some of its core group, but picking up a number of likely replacements.
Peckers’ coach Rob Michael hopes the recruits can bring some experience to the young side, which will use its leg speed to break apart this contest.
Angle Vale v Hamley Bridge
It’s hard to expect much from this match, after both sides failed to get off the ground in 2016.
However, both Angle Vale and Hamley Bridge have recruited well, and some are expecting quite an improvement from the once struggling teams.
With Kym Herrmann at the helm, the Owls have picked up a number of strong players, both from the amateur leagues and interstate.
Meanwhile, Hamley Bridge has lost a few of its key players, like ruckman Josh Rosenzweig, former captain Rhys Darwin and leading goal-kicker Ashley Parsons, but have added some able replacements.
New coach Mark Good said he is under no illusions – this will still be a rebuilding year for his side.
Prediction: Angle Vale