Double-header for Memorial Oval

KICK-OFF NEARS: Lions and Port will battle at the double-header at Memorial Oval. Lions' Nick Saunders gets ready to take control of the ball in the opening round clash at Port Oval last season between the two sides.
KICK-OFF NEARS: Lions and Port will battle at the double-header at Memorial Oval. Lions' Nick Saunders gets ready to take control of the ball in the opening round clash at Port Oval last season between the two sides.

Season 2019 for the SGL is about to begin with lots of excitement surrounding all teams and a real buzz in the league courtesy of the reopening of the revamped gem in Port Pirie, the Memorial Oval. Some interesting things to look forward to;

Anzac Day start in Port Augusta

Double-header start in Pirie to christen revamped oval with games on Pirie West Oval also

Return of Friday night football in Round 5 with Sollies V Port White Ribbon Round.

Strong push for a ladies game between the two clubs as well that night.

Country Champs return to Pirie including women as well for the first time.

Adelaide Crows v Port Adelaide Magpies SANFL game same weekend.

Free long weekend with no combined likely as Whyalla celebrates centenary.

All six clubs taking much larger role in gate and match day operations.

Players will love all Saturday football in Pirie with a few games left in Augusta as Port home games remain on Port Oval plus use of ETSA Oval in Augusta on occasions.

We look at sides as they finished last year with some stab in the dark predictions.

West Augusta Hawks - 2018 sixth. The Hawks had a bad a year as many can remember having only ended up singing the song on one occasion for season 2018 and a percentage just over 26. Westies are too proud and too successful a club to let that continue and they will react. Gun forward Hayden Warren is back from Whyalla and unconfirmed word is his brothers Tyrone and Jarryd will be playing more as well. Outstanding NAFA talent and Declan Duffy (son of former Madigan Medallist Justin) is on board from Orroroo. They have made a play for Braden Allen and resecured a wavering Nic Collins but will miss Kerwin Stuart who has moved interstate. Will improve but from a low base - prediction fifth.

Central Augusta Bloods - 2018 fifth. After a stellar recent period the Bloods continued to struggle last year and whilst continuing to produce strong juniors, getting them to stay and mature is always the issue. Their ins and outs page has been the busiest of all the clubs and has lost Everett, three of the Colson boys and Coulthard all to Whyalla clubs plus Braden Allen looks unlikely. It looks like Jordan Mandemaker has come in from Roxby and will be handy. The losses have been heavy and whilst their juniors will improve its hard to see success on the ladder - prediction sixth.

Port Bulldogs - 2018 fourth. Played finals after five years in the wilderness but it was a fleeting visit they will want to improve on. Their two key forwards in Woodards and Grove have gone and they will need key forwards to replace them. Past medallist Graham Cooke is on board back in town from the NAFA and will be more than handy and coupled with ex player Chris Edmunds will give them some height whilst a return of strongman Terry Hall will give the dogs bite in the midfield. The Port juniors have been strong for a few years and they will hope for improvement from there - prediction fourth.

Proprietary/Risdon Lions - 2018 third. Showed real flair in patches under coach Promnitz and will be hoping to perform closer to the best form each week for improvement. They have a good core and add Stuart Hill, a key forward from Mount Compass plus Hugo Wallace returning from a stint with Walkerville in amateurs that will give them added aerial strength up front. Brad Ley and Dean Steele (when available) are also said to be returning and if fit have historically been good for the Lions. Lions will improve and expect to see them come the last Saturday in September - prediction grand finalists.

Solomontown Cats - 2018 second. Not a lot of inward player movement, but thankfully very little out from all reports. The Cats were consistent again last year and the defeat in the grand final for the second time was a hard pill to swallow. Their biggest change will be at the reins as they surprised many by not reappointing premiership winning coach Pollard to favour their current colts coach and NAFA premiership coach Joel Head. Both have outstanding records so it will be interesting to see where the change in steering takes them. They will again be around the mark - prediction third.

South Augusta Bulldogs - 2018 first. The Dogs are coming off a three-in-a-row stellar run that is unequalled in their long history and will again start favourites to make it four from four. They have had some exits though with Hamilton, Maule, Kahran McKenzie, Russell and medallist Aziel Stuart all on their way and gun forward Brown out for an unknown period. This will impact them but they are starting a long way ahead of the others. Prediction - premiers.

An interesting side note of the transfer pages is the annual transfer of players between the Port Augusta clubs which is always much more prevalent than locally. There have been 16 requests between the Augusta clubs whilst Pirie only has five.

Round one games are hard to preview without knowing the line-ups but a quick summary.

Saturday, 2.25pm, Memorial Oval - Solomontown v Central. Sollies will want to start well on their new home deck for their new senior coach Head. Their run and carry which served them so well last year will want to be rolling as the Central outfit will want to give their fans hope for the new year. Sollies will have too many guns though with Hayes, Mezzino, Caputo, Bearman and co carrying the Cats to their first win of the year.

Saturday, 5.00pm, Memorial Oval - Lions v Port. This one shapes as the match of the round under the lights for the first double header for the SGL in many years. The rucks will be interesting with new boy Edmunds up against Dyer to try and give the respective midfields first shot. Hall, Coe, Vivar and Parker will try and counter the Lions guns of Slattery, Edwards, Edwards and Fuller in what should be an enthralling battle. The game could be decided up each end and if the new-look attacks with Cooke for Port and Wallace and Hill for Lions leaving Horsnell with less attention and if they fire it could be a repeat of last year's semi. Lions by a goal.

There will be plenty of challenges in this new look SGL season, extra Saturdays puts pressure on umpire numbers, extra club duties puts pressure on volunteers and the new oval and setup will have its teething problems no doubt. But it's great to see footy back!