GNFL round 11 preview: Towns set goals high with early success as they prepare for Brigades match-up

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsGeraldton Guardian
Lachlan Morphew and Hayden Johnson in the ruck contest.
Camera IconLachlan Morphew and Hayden Johnson in the ruck contest. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

It has been a season of surprises in the Great Northern Football League and one of the biggest has been the quick turnaround and resurgence of Towns Football Club.

In their first eight games, the Bulldogs have picked up five wins, the same amount they had won in the past three seasons combined.

Coming off 2023, Towns had just one win but now sit second on the ladder. The side was expecting to be better but co-coach Dale Baynes said this level of success had been a “pleasant surprise”.

“We knew that we would be improved from last year,” he said.

“But I didn’t think we would be going as well as we are at this stage of the year … a really pleasant surprise to be where we are.”

Arthur Garlett against Brigades in round four.
Camera IconArthur Garlett against Brigades in round four. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

The Bulldogs have been marching in recent weeks, picking up three straight wins to move into second spot on the ladder on percentage.

Baynes said their recent form had been a culmination of all their work put in during preseason.

“I think the game plan that we’ve implemented this year is really starting to take off now – players have got faith in it and faith in each other, so that’s really starting to click,” he said.

“That amount of work that we’ve done, training wise both in a physical sense in terms of running and fitness capacity.

“Getting some of those recruits that we didn’t have last year, with Beau Walker and Jaylen Parsons, coming into the fold has been really handy.”

Parsons certainly left his mark last week, booting 10 goals during the side’s 174-point demolition over Mullewa.

Jaylen Parsons booted 10 goals over Mullewa.
Camera IconJaylen Parsons booted 10 goals over Mullewa. Credit: Hollys Shots/Hollys Shots

Now the team is looking in a position to reach finals for the first time since 2018 if their form continues, but making the four is no longer the main goal for the club.

“I think we were definitely going to try and push for finals, but now obviously you have to re-evaluate your goals along the way,” Baynes said.

“With the position we’re in at the moment, we definitely believe finals are a huge chance for us, not just making the final but winning in finals and seeing how far we can go.

“It’s been such an even comp, obviously Chapman Valley’s the team to beat at this stage, but we think our footy’s going to hold up as good as anybody’s when the whips are cracking at the end of the year.”

Towns will be tested this week, facing Brigades for the second time this season.

Second through to fourth on the ladder is an even race at the moment, with Towns, Northampton and Brigades all sitting at 5-3.

The last time the Bulldogs and Hawks faced, it was Brigades who had the upper hand, picking up the 14.4 (88) to 6.9 (45) win in round four.

Hassan Ahmat-Watkins and Beau Walker.
Camera IconHassan Ahmat-Watkins and Beau Walker. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

This time around, Baynes said Towns would be looking to play on their terms instead of chasing Brigades.

“They got the jump on us in the first quarter when we played them last time,” he said.

“Full credit to them the way they played, but now we’ve had a look at them, that was early in the season.

“We’re still tinkering with our game plan and our systems, applying that a little better now, so hopefully we can reverse roles.”

The weather is looking like it will hold off for the league match, leaving the game to be played in dry conditions which is what Towns are looking for.

“We need to win the footy our of the middle and get it going our way, trump the territory game and play it in our front half,” Baynes said.

“I’d rather see a dry day to actually play in the best conditions possible to see where we’re at.

“To be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and (Brigades) have been one of the best for the last few years.”

Across the rest of the league, after three straight away games, Northampton are back at home where they will host Rovers at Purcher International Oval.

While at the Rec Ground, Mullewa will chase their first win this season against a Railways side fighting to get back in the four.

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