Premiership race wide open

Reigning premier Catani will once again be right up there in the premiership race. Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Russell Bennett

ELLINBANK AND DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE
PREVIEW – ROUND 1
The new Ellinbank and District Football League season promises to be as hotly contested as ever, with a host of evenly-matched, talented sides looking to set the early pace.
Reigning Premiers the Blues will again by one to watch in the 2018 campaign – buoyed by the knowledge that they have what it takes to lift and perform at their best right when it matters most, in crunch time.
But right there alongside them is sure to be Ellinbank, the Warragul Industrials, and Longwarry in a wide-open field.
Crows senior coach Daniel Fry can’t wait for the season to get started, with his side traveling to Darnum to take on the Bombers this weekend.
He said, to an extent, he knows what to expect out of the likes of the Dusties and Blues, but that the Bankers are somewhat of an unknown.
“We’re fit, we’re healthy, and we’ve only got one guy in the medical room and that’s Troy Lehman who did a hamstring in our second practice match,” he said, adding that he expects Lehman to be right for Round 2.
Of their practice games against Garfield, Fairpark, and Bunyip the Crows won two of those, which is particularly promising for a group that Fry says runs on confidence.
Along with Danny and Casey Wells, the Crows have also had Russell Lehman and, most recently, Jake Delphine come into the fold. Ruckman Nick Redley has returned from Officer, while Cory Lenders only played 11 senior games last season and will be like a new recruit.
Fry said the Crows’ culture could be attributed to the buzz currently around the club, with around 40 players on the training track throughout pre-season. At one stage, that number exceeded 60.
This year, with Redley returning to the fold, Ben Cuckson will be free to spend more time at centre-half forward, with Fry at his customary deep forward post. Lenders will also spend significant time forward, which is sure to give opposition sides no end of headaches.
This year the Crows are after more consistent ball use by foot, and a 10 to 20 percent improvement from their output last season.
“Our biggest strength across the board is that we’ll have a lot of depth,” he added. “Last year we were replacing senior players with reserve players, while this year we’ll be replacing senior players with seniors.
“Our on-ball line will be really strong too.”
Finally, Fry added his side would have no excuses – particularly early on in the season. The Crows know, just like the Blues, Dusties, and Bankers, that they need to hit the ground running, and hard.

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