A look at the season half way through

Sadly, since the Whyalla Football League were unable to meet their combined commitments this has left the SGL without any footy last week so I thought I would take the chance to give a mid-season summary, concentrating mainly on the Pirie sides for The Recorder.

It is looking like unless something drastic happens South have top spot all sewn up. West I feel are looking most likely to finish at the foot of the table and Central the most likely to finish fifth. This leaves the three Pirie sides. They have been incredibly even, which is great for the local games.

Lions beat Port in round one by 26 points, Solly beat Lions in round four by 12 points, Port beat Solly in round five by 53 points and Port beat Lions by 29 points in round six.

As you can see, it’s pretty even with five more cross-town derbys to come and it makes for sensational banter and one-upmanship between local rivals which is great to see!

Nothing feels better than strutting about town chest out after a good win over the dreaded enemy, at least for a week or two haha!

As they stand on the Ladder

First - South Augusta Bulldogs – cannot put a foot wrong at this point. They had lost a couple and replaced them with even more.

Lionel Brown’s return from Broken Hill has set the competition alight with 45 goals from seven games and is on target to kick 100.

South are raging favourites this year, but so were Sollies last year and it’s all or nothing on one day in September.

Haven’t lost a game and averaging 40 points more than any other side a game

Second - Port Bulldogs – have recruited well and also got some back from injury and returning past players from Adelaide to add to their overall depth.

Everything went wrong for the Dogs last year but this year it seems to be gathering momentum.

Defence is rock solid and let through less than anyone, a real plus.

Will play finals and should impact, much improved.

Third - Solomontown Cats – have had considerable player drains from last year but are starting to steady and expect a few more back more often come the last half the year.

When they are at full strength they can beat all sides, would love more avenues to goal, have scored roughly 100 points less than Port and Lions.

Fourth - Proprietary Risdon Lions – running division is very strong and last game gave them a handy two game buffer in to the top four over West and Central.

Will need all their best players playing to be winning when the whips are cracking come finals time.

Have an issue of a tall marking forward to add to Horsnell when Dyer is rucking.

Fifth - Central Augusta Bloods – has a good pack of youngsters and some very good but aging older champions with not enough in between.

They have had a huge turnover of players that are not gelling as well as coach Redden would like.

They will be better after the break and need to work hard when it starts to go against them.

Sixth - West Augusta Hawks – In the words of the Queen, this is Westies’ Annus Horribillus, a shocking year.

All clubs go through it from time to time with a bad alignment of circumstances that is usually followed by waning enthusiasm for the size of the task at hand.

Port have been through it of late and I’m sure those in charge at West are already looking and working toward solutions in the coming seasons.

Westies are brave (you must be to wear that distinctive purple) and will improve in the second half the year.

Now looking at the Pirie sides we will have a look at few specific topics

Gun recruits? Who are the better players to make an impression for the locals in their new club?

Lions - Patrick Browne. Came across from the same coloured Lincoln South Eagles to join Lions without much fanfare but has blended in beautifully. His poise and run across half back has suited the game plan of coach Promnitz to a tee and he continually offers Eckert freedom to do what he does best. A quality player to gain.

Solomontown - Riley Hayes. Certainly not new to the club, but back after a long period away and is as good as any new recruit. A strong and fit midfielder that give the Cats real bite. Along with his cousin Jonno the older Cat faithfully can close their eyes and the Hayes boys can take them back to glory days of premierships past when their dads prowled the field in the 80s!

Port - Shaun Jared. Perhaps one that is not expected given other recruits of Coe, George, Groves and Vivar amongst others, this lad has come across the Ranges and is a huge part of Port’s lock down defence. Watch him closely, he moves beautifully, has great hands and has footy smarts. A great asset.

Gun youngsters? All clubs love to see their youngsters coming through so we will have a look at a few.

Lions - Anthony Oliphant and Ash Chivell. Young Oliphant has been a bright light on the way for some time and now really finding his feet in the bigger bodies of league footy with real class, skill and workrate and is a joy to watch in full flight.

Ash had taken a while to get his shot given Lions strong recent sides and even toyed with the idea of a move but to his credit he stuck at it and now he has his chance.

He is really starting to flourish deep in defence, learning from those calm heads around him and does not lack courage or willingness to get in. A great future for both!

Sollies - Lawson Munzberg and Tyler Sciangelepore. Lawson is a massive talent and adds to the big man depth of Sollies and has real ball skills for a lad that size which is rare.

Will improve year on year as most big men do and good luck stopping him in a few year’s time.

Tyler is a Cat favourite given his voice and passion for his club. Finally earnt his regular spot and really starting to blossom and show the talents he clearly has at that higher level. Will continue to give his all.

Port - Darcy Puddy and Cain Pisani. Darcy has the simplicity of youth and shows no fear in his key role in the last line of defence, continually backing himself and simply just playing footy. He won’t end up being a defender but for now, it’s great fun watching him go at it.

Cain is a little older, but its fabulous to see him get an injury free run at it. He has real heart, talent and immense courage. He is equally adept at in and under clearance work, as he is in front of the sticks. He gets under a lot of team’s radar and is a star right now!

Guns of yesteryear? If we could turn back time, what player from yesteryear would each club love to have lace up this week? Not having a go at today’s players but let’s have some fun and pick one to ‘recruit’ in, here’s mine.

Lions – have had some absolute jets in their line ups in their short, merged history but one man they would love back in his prime is Elijah Ware.

His best on ground performance in a losing grand final against Port was as good as any I have seen.

He had pace, he had flare, he could fly and boy did he have some serious skills that took him all the way to the AFL and multiple SANFL flags.

He would set the comp on fire again and people would flock to see him play!

Solomontown – the  Cats can’t seem to find their way to big scores this year and someone that I would go back to from the late 80s is past goal kicking sensation and premiership player Larry Rawlins.

Larry was Cats through and through and scored heavily over his career proving to be a real focal point with his wonderful leading, high flying and dead eye accuracy. Wouldn’t the fans at the Cattery love a 25-year-old Larry right now to straighten them up and create that X factor excitement.

Port – Port’s Akker, Remphrey and others have been doing well in ruck but I’m sure the Dogs wouldn’t mind the services of some of their great big men in years gone by to assist. Possibly the spring heeled Michael Burford or even the hall of fame thinking man’s ruckman Jamie Keane.

The one I would opt for though, is the late, great Hugh Murphy. Hughie was a Port Icon, a six-time premiership ruckman with a massive ticker from the 50s and 60s. He was as hard as nails and would have been the perfect man to take these boys under his wing.

Snap back to current day! This week in summary

Sat – PropRisdon v South in Pirie. It’s Lions turn to face the blowtorch that South is providing at present and whilst will be competitive for large parts of the game I’m tipping South by 36 points.

Sat - Central v Port in Augusta. Central will have enjoyed the break and have had a fortnight to size up the second placed dogs. It will be closer than last time but still tipping Port by 24 points.

Sun – Solomontown v West in Pirie. Hopefully the break has allowed the Hawks to regroup and get some back. They will need it though, the Cats to win easy by 54 points.