The 2017 GFL season kicks off on April 8th, here are the top 10 games you should look out for this year
ROUND 1 – ST MARYS VS LEOPOLD – APRIL 8 – LEOPOLD RECREATIONAL RESERVE
The grand final rematch will certainly be one to watch, with St Mary’s eager to hit back at Leopold after last year’s grand final defeat. How will they handle the loss of co-captain Matthew Hebbard to Drysdale? As well as the losses of midfielder Zac Hopper to Torquay and Chris Jones to retirement? St Mary’s are also a junior powerhouse so it will be interesting to see the possibility of young talent in their side. Also the debut of former Geelong and Brisbane ruckman Trent West for Leopold will be interesting, how will he fair in the GFL? Being a six pointer, will Leopold have issues putting their best side on the park? As well as the loss of champion Jai Thompson?
ROUND 1 – GEELONG WEST GIANTS VS NORTH SHORE – APRIL 8 – WEST OVAL
The debut of the newly merged Geelong West Giants, bringing two clubs, the Geelong West St Peters Roosters and the Geelong West Cheetahs together to compete in the GFL and GDFL will have many former Rooster fans excited for the future. They have a terrific opportunity in round 1 against North Shore, especially after acquiring prominent football identity John Fitzgerald as the director of coaching. The Seagulls have gone far for some recruits, including Corey Nankervis from Launceston and Zach Plant from Laurderdale
ROUND 1 ST JOSEPHS VS BELL PARK – APRIL 8 – DREW RESERVE
Bell Park are top three fancies heading into season 2017, having recruited very well in the offseason with the likes of Sam Bouwman from Angelsea. St Joseph’s have had very successful two years and will look to bounce back after the disappointed 2016 straight set exit out of the finals. They have signed VFL hopefuls Luke Webb and Callum Mitchell, as well as former Geelong falcon and Torquay young gun Ben McNamara, but will be hurting with the loss of Dale Carson to Anglesea, this round 1 matchup will be a good test to see what 2017 holds for these top five hopefuls.
ROUND 2 – ST JOSEPHS VS SOUTH BARWON – APRIL 25TH (TUESDAY) – DREW RESERVE
The exciting Anzac day tradition will continue in 2017 with the Swans travelling to Drew reserve to take on Joeys on a Tuesday afternoon. These clashes have been terrific in the past few seasons and expect no different, with the Swans looking to climb the ladder after recruiting well in the offseason (Andrew Boseley, North Ballarat VFL and Mitch Fisher, Modewarre).
ROUND 2 – BELL PARK VS LEOPOLD – APRIL 22 – HAMLYN PARK
Both clubs are flag fancies heading into 2017, with Leopold favourites to go back to back and Bell Park a chance to win it all in 2017 with a revamped game plan. Bell Park had a disappointing elimination final exit to Grovedale in 2016, so they will look to prove themselves in the big test against the reigning premiers under new co coach Luke Rayner.
ROUND 3 – GROVEDALE VS LEOPOLD – APRIL 29 – BURDOO RESERVE
This round 3 matchup is arguably the biggest test for both clubs early in the season. Grovedale have had a terrific offseason recruiting, picking up arguably the two biggest names in the local region in former AFL players and brothers Cam and Luke Delaney, adding to that is the bonus that both are one-point players after playing their juniors at Grovedale, they have also picked up another handy recruit in former North Geelong coach Daniel Kee. This matchup will have three AFL players that have played the game of recent years in the Delaney brothers, and Trent West.
ROUND 5 ST JOSEPHS VS ST MARYS – MAY 20 – DREW RESERVE
The rivalry between these two great clubs only grows in 2017, after St Mary’s upset Joeys in the first qualifying final in 2016 that ultimately led to Joey’s bowing out the next week, as well as their colts (under 18s) have played off in the past two grand finals, with St Mary’s rolling Joeys both times. St Mary’s Sam Dobson played a stellar final last year, so it will be interesting to see what Joey’s have in store for him.
ROUND 8 – COLAC VS ST ALBANS – JUNE 10 – CENTRAL RESERVE
Neither Colac nor the Supersaints made the finals last season, but both teams have recruited well in the offseason that makes this an exciting matchup for two teams looking to knock on the door of a top five spot. Colac picked up 2016 Birregurra premiership captain Jack Melican, joining him is former Geelong Falcon Zach Zdybel, and the Supersaints have two new coaches in Paul Nigro and Justin Carey, after coach Nick Daffy defected to the VFL side North Ballarat.
ROUND 9 – NEWTOWN VS ST MARY’S – JUNE 17 – ST MARY’S OVAL
Another likely terrific contest between two arch rivals. Newtown finished sixth in the 2016 season and it was a late season defeat to St Mary’s that kept them out of the top five, so the Eagles will be looking at some revenge in this contest. Some ins for the Eagles include Geelong Ammos players Micah Buchanan and Jacob Sharp. However there were some key exits from last year’s squad, with Luke Forbes going to Modewarre and Timm House being picked up by Geelong in the AFL. Should be an exciting contest from two teams who do not like each other.
ROUND 12 – LARA VS NORTH SHORE – JULY 15TH – BISINELLA OVAL
Whilst both sides are rebuilding for the future, expect a tight contest from two sides who will view this game as a pride match. Lara turned to North Shore legend Simon Riddoch as its coach for the next three years. Riddoch won eight premierships during his time at North Shore, and is tasked with moving the club forward after they have on won four games since 2013, the year they last made the finals.