THE 2016 MPNFL Nepean Division season gets into full swing this Saturday and already there are a couple of teams under pressure.
One of them is Rye. The Demons were nothing short of ordinary in their Good Friday clash with Rosebud, a match played out in a draw.
This Saturday, Rye tackles the side many believe will go one better in season 2016, Somerville.
The Eagles were potent against Tyabb on Easter Saturday with Tommy Shaw booting nine and Luke Rowe seven, while a further nine players hit the scoreboard.
Rye’s defensive pressure hasn’t been good for a number of years and one questions whether they can hold the Eagles.
The Rye midfield doesn’t work hard enough to push back and defend and its defenders are undersized.
Somerville’s concern is its inability to stop teams from scoring. It will more often win in a shootout but it can’t afford to give sides such as Tyabb an opportunity to kick 72 points.
If the Eagles have learned anything from last season in a bid to go one better, it must be to restrict opposition from scoring and shutting them down.
In a 16 round season, it’s hard to come back from 0-2. This will be something Rye will need to face on Saturday night.
The other side under pressure is last year’s premier, Rosebud.
The Buds too were ordinary against Rye at Easter and must improve a lot to knock over Dromana this weekend.
When you lose three players from your front six (Tom Baker, Lachy Armstrong and Cade Williams) and three of your best from the middle (Jason Bristow, Paul McDonald and Rob Forrest), things are going to be tough.
They tackle a Dromana side that has rediscovered its hunger, passion and spirit – all words that best describe new coach Rikki Johnston.
Beau Cosson is a revelation, Williams comes up against his old side, Adam Hunter got going in the second half last week (although he should be playing off half back) and will improve as time moves on and the Tigers are full of spirit after beating Sorrento.
Like Rye, Rosebud will be 0-2 after two matches.
Crib Point and Red Hill will be a fascinating game.
The Magpies have done well in the off season, picking up some quality in the likes of Taylor Stratton as coach, Kain Stratton, Paul Dadds and Mitch Stansborough from Mornington and Matt Hogan from YCW.
At Red Hill, the talk has been more about the losses and less about the ins. The Red Hill Football Club has lost 22 players from its 2015 list, nine of them starting 18 players, who include Paul Wintle, Jake and Josh Mold, Ben Macguiness, Matt Vagg and Jarred Eames.
The Hillmen have picked up some good players though, especially the Marchetti brothers from Cora-Lynn, as well as Jackson Dalton, who has been kicking bags in practice matches.
Former Frankston YCW premiership player Benny Poole is also a sensational get while Nick Walsh is hard as a cat’s head in defence.
As noted already, there’s no time to get going in a 16 round competition. Teams need to hit the ground running. The winner of this match may still not play finals. The loser definitely won’t.
Devon Meadows was the flyer late last season and it has recruited very well in the off season.
Former Frankston YCW leader and Team of the Year MVP Stevey Roberts is without question the pick of all recruits across the competition. Despite coming off knee injuries, he is unquestionably a star.
Justin Volk from Tyabb is a good get too, as is Andrew Kiely and ruckman Jesse Bowe. Callum O’Hare is a great get (back from a knee) and Curtis Barker will be as he gets himself fit.
The Panthers need to be mindful of being too top heavy in attack with Kiely, Dylan Hand and Glenn Michie. Kiely is a sensational defender and should be parked at centre half back or full back. Those who have seen Devon in practice matches believe there is not enough defensive pressure.
Pearcedale was disappointing against Frankston Bombers on Good Friday.
There were a couple of stand out performances from Joel White across half back and Dylan Hoare through the middle. The Dales were missing a few also, most notably Pat Heijden, which leaves Michael Williams as the only key target.
Travis Bravo needs to be left inside the attacking 50m arc to be of most value at his new club.
Devon Meadows are a big show for the five this season and will start their journey positively.
Sorrento simply must bounce back at home against Hastings.
The Sorras were pretty good in spurts against Dromana but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line.
Put simply, the Sorrento team needs to start operating as a team and less as a group of talented individuals.
Previous coach Troy Schwarze would simply put his 22 on the field and allow them to beat their opponent and win the game. It worked more often than not.
New coach Nick Jewell will provide structure, discipline and a team ethos – the sooner all Sorrento players embrace this and charge forward, the sooner it will get its season back on track.
New recruit Nick Corr is an absolute gem. The key is to play Corr high and Scott Lockwood deep – they will be lethal.
Hastings has picked up Mark Devereaux (returned) and Nathan Gray, who comes with massive wraps from the EFL. Luke Smith from Seaford is also an outstanding get, while coach Brendan Dunne is fit and firing from all reports.
Tyabb booted 11 goals against Somerville in a consistent performance over four quarters.
The Yabbies start from a long way back.
Frankston Bombers are widely tipped to be playing finals, given their favourable draw and strong recruiting in the off season.
Dale Sutton is without question the pick of the recruits, while Jarryd Amalfi gives them the run, carry and long kick from half back. It frees Beau Muston to play through the middle or pinch-hit in attack.
Ryan Kitchen proved his worth taking strong contested marks and Nathan Lonie is a star who provides composure, experience and a sure kick. Josh Chapman looks set to have a really good season also.
Toe Punt’s 2016 Ladder