How footy season stacks up
Coach: Peter Watters
Positives: The Hawks will enjoy the confines of GBSC Sports Park for much of the second half of the season, with five of their last eight matches at home (three on Sunday, two on Saturday). Only travel to Northampton and Mullewa once (rounds 7 and 8), with only one match outside Geraldton after round 14.Also don’t play 2017 runner-up grand finalist Railways until round 13.
Challenges: Travelling to Northampton and Mullewa across back- to-back weekends is an early test for Watters’ men, along with their scheduling of byes. The Hawks have two byes in the opening five rounds (round 2 and 5) which could hamper momentum gained from positive displays. Take on 2017 preliminary finalist Rovers twice in the opening six rounds.
Keep your eye on: How the Hawks handle the final month of the season. Meet three of the last season’s top four (Rovers, Railways and Towns) in the last four rounds, with matches against the Blues and Bulldogs away.
Coach: Russell Banks
Positives: Enjoy a solid block of five home games at Burando Hill Oval between rounds 6 and 11 (including four in a row between rounds 8 and 11), which will be ideal for Banks’ younger side. The Royals will also only face two top-four sides from last season in the opening month of 2018.
Challenges: As a trade-off for the middle of the season, the Royals only play at home once during the opening five rounds. Face reigning premiers Mullewa and perennial nemesis Towns three times, along with away trips to Northampton and Mullewa in the final three rounds of the season.
Keep your eye on: How the young Royals handle two tricky matches after their bye in round 12. They do battle with Mullewa (WA Country Builders Stadium) and Rovers (Greenough Oval) away from home.
Coach: Adrian “Blair” Comeagain
Positives: The reigning premiers are at home twice in the opening three rounds of the season, where they host the Blues and Bulldogs. An early away trip to Burando Hill Oval in round 2 will also give Comeagain an opportunity to test his side against an emerging younger opposition. The Saints’ byes have been spread evenly across the year, which will give them an opportunity to build momentum.
Challenges: Aside from their bye in round 17, the Saints face Towns (away), Railways (home) and Rovers (away) consecutively, which could impact ladder positioning at the end of the season.
Keep your eye on: How Mullewa handle their early assignments against the Blues and Bulldogs. If they get off to a flyer and play their irrepressible brand of football against fellow premiership contenders, they could replicate last season’s memorable achievement.
Coach: Kingsley Smith
Positives: Will enjoy night football again in 2018, with three home games at Purcher International Oval set to be contested under lights. Smith will get an opportunity to see how far his Rams have progressed over the off-season in the opening month, with away trips to Railways, Rovers and Mullewa.
Challenges: On paper the draw looks daunting at times, however, Smith’s Rams have the ability and enthusiasm to be more than competitive. The opening four rounds of the season will be critical for them if they wish to play finals, with a difficult run of games between rounds 13 and 15 (Rovers at home, Towns at home and Railways away).
Keep your eye on: The Rams’ home form. Four of their last five games at Purcher International Oval are against top-four sides from last season. Should these matches produce victories, the Rams may push for a finals berth.
Coach: Karl Pirrottina
Positives: The Blues have a seemingly positive schedule over the final five rounds, with four Sunday matches pencilled in at the Warren Taylor Homes Recreation Ground. Only travel outside of Geraldton once (Mullewa in round 16) from round 12 onwards.
Challenges: Arguably the most challenging stretch of games Pirrottina’s men will face begins in round 6 (home to Mullewa) and round 10 (away to Rovers) — with away trips to Towns and Kalbarri against Northampton sandwiched in-between. In addition, the Blues travel to Mullewa twice, which is never an easy ground to win at for visiting sides.
Keep your eye on: The Blues will have plenty of big matches over the first two months of the season, facing the Saints (twice), Demons and Bulldogs.
Coach: Ian Comben
Positives: The Demons open the season with three successive home games, with a bye in round 3. Longest away trips (Mullewa and Northampton) are back-to-back in the mid-season. Will not play on a Monday public holiday and only have one Saturday night fixture (away to Towns) in 2018.
Challenges: Have three challenging blocks of games sprinkled throughout the season, though this shouldn’t faze Comben. After the Demons face the Blues and Bulldogs (round 4 and 5), they meet both sides again in rounds 10 and 11, with an away trip to Mullewa a week later. Finally, do battle with the Blues and Saints back-to-back in the final three rounds of the season.
Keep your eye on: How the Demons lay the foundations for their 2018 season. Only face two top-four sides in the opening six rounds, which could provide them an early opportunity to post some victories and place themselves in the four heading into the middle of the season.
Coach: Reg Hall
Positives: Having finished no lower than third since 1997, the fixture schedule has traditionally meant little to the Bulldogs in recent times. Of the benefits this season, only travel to Mullewa once and enjoy four consecutive home games between round 7 and round 10.
Challenges: Only have two games at home after round 12 and face bitter rival Railways away on the final day of the season.
Keep your eye on: Whether the Bulldogs can continue their impressive away form. This season, they double up on trips to the Warren Taylor Homes Recreation Ground and Burando Hill Oval.
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