GNFL: Battered Royals ride out rough year as gulf widens between top and bottom teams

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Jaidan Thompson has starred for Valley.
Camera IconJaidan Thompson has starred for Valley. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

It’s a tough year for the bottom three in the GNFL this season,

It’s a cold unflinching reality that the top four teams, all with a plus-200 percentage, are miles better than the bottom three.

Valley lost by a big margin on Saturday to league leaders Railways, the Royals going down 4.5 (29) to 23.18 (156) at Mazzuchelli Oval.

But that’s how it is, as Chapman Valley coach Paul Drennan knows.

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“Not a good year for the Valley, things didn’t go as expected with player retention from last year and recruiting this year,” he said.

“We were hit hard with injuries to key personnel early, losing Dylan Williamson, Lee Hutchins and Tom Walker, the first two done for the year by round four.

“We also have six to eight fly-in, fly-out players so it was hard to get continuity and match fitness from them, and we’ve had a huge player turnover every game.”

There are positives with the form of Jaidan and Mitchell Thompson among them. The brothers have been named among the Royals’ best seven times, way more than anyone else.

“The Thompson boys have been outstanding, they’re two of the GNFL’s most consistent, under-the-radar players,” Drennan said.

“It would be great to have more support for them but we’ve now lost a consistent ruckman in Michael McConnell who broke his arm in our previous game and is out for the rest of the season.

“We’ve also found a good player, even though he’s learning at league level, in 17-year-old Ewan Whitley who debuted in round one.”

For Valley, it’s about sticking together. “We’re aware as a club that we must improve sharply in every area and quickly for next season and assure you we’re working hard behind the scenes to bring about change,” Drennan said.

“From here, we’ll play the committed lads and try find a few league boys for next year.

“Good luck to the teams that will play finals, any of them can win it if they get their best team out there.”

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