Last night the continuation of the GDFL rolling draw was released with mixed emotions expressed around the twittersphere.
Bannockburn fans will be happy that their side will only face Inverleigh and Bell Post Hill once in 2018 while this year’s wooden spooner Corio will play four of the top five sides twice.
Winchelsea will host two night games against Anakie and Thomson before the Blues make their ANZAC Day debut, replacing Inverleigh against Bannockburn at Victoria Park.
First year Giant Michael Leamer will play his former side (Belmont Lions) twice as will Anakie forward Jamie Pitman who returns from two stints at North Geelong divided by a season with GFL side St Albans.
Here are some things to look out for in season 2018….
GDFL SIDES TO MEET TWICE IN 2018
Anakie: Bell Post Hill (1st), Bannockburn (3rd), Thomson (4th), North Geelong (5th), Winchelsea (8th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Belmont Lions (11th).
Bannockburn: Thomson (4th), North Geelong (5th), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), Winchelsea (8th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Corio (12th).
Bell Post Hill: Inverleigh (2nd), Thomson (4th), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), East Geelong (9th), Belmont Lions (11th) and Corio (12th).
Belmont Lions: Bell Post Hill (1st), Inverleigh (2nd), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), Winchelsea (8th), East Geelong (9th) and Corio (12th).
Corio: Bell Post Hill (1st), Inverleigh (2nd), Bannockburn (3rd), North Geelong (5th), East Geelong (9th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Belmont Lions (11th).
East Geelong: Bell Post Hill (1st), Inverleigh (2nd), Thomson (4th), Geelong West (6th), East Geelong (9th), Werribee Centrals (10th), Belmont Lions (11th) and Corio (12th).
Geelong West: Bell Post Hill (1st), Bannockburn (3rd), North Geelong (5th), Winchelsea (8th), East Geelong (9th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Belmont Lions (11th).
Inverleigh: Bell Post Hill (1st), Thomson (4th), North Geelong (5th), East Geelong (9th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Corio (12th).
North Geelong: Inverleigh (2nd), Bannockburn (3rd), Thomson (4th), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), Winchelsea (8th) and Corio (12th).
Thomson: Bell Post Hill (1st), Inverleigh (2nd), Bannockburn (3rd), North Geelong (5th), Anakie (7th), Winchelsea (8th), East Geelong (9th).
Werribee Centrals: Inverleigh (2nd), Bannockburn (3rd), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), Winchelsea (8th), East Geelong (9th) and Corio (12th).
Winchelsea: Bannockburn (3rd), Thomson (4th), North Geelong (5th), Geelong West (6th), Anakie (7th), Werribee Centrals (10th) and Belmont Lions (11th).
THE ROUND BY ROUND GUIDE
Saturday – April 7 (2018)
East Geelong vs. Werribee Centrals
Geelong West vs. Winchelsea
Inverleigh vs. North Geelong
Bell Post Hill vs. Belmont Lions
Corio vs. Bannockburn
Sunday – April 8
Anakie vs. Thomson
We open our season across an action packed weekend with four of the Saturday’s five games held at suburban grounds.
Former senior premiership players Jeremy Power (East Geelong) and Nick Smith (Werribee) return to the GDFL as senior coaches, only one can commence 2018 with a win.
Inverleigh co-captain Justin Di Blasio will once again host many of his former premiership teammates from North Geelong’s 20-point victory over Bell Post Hill in 2013.
This will lighten the rivalry between the clubs where, on the netball courts, the Hawks will most likely unfurl their C-Grade premiership flag after holding off North Geelong 39-28 in this year’s grand final.
Bell Post Hill will host a Belmont side coached by their former premiership star Ash Witney.
Fomrer Panther trio Will Kelly, Dylan Witney and Matt Weise will also line up for the Lions.
2014 Whitley medalist Andy Challis will also make his three year return to the league when making his senior coaching debut against premiership contender Bannockburn.
Bannockburn’s A-Grade netball side will travel to Corio hoping to seek redemption for this year’s first semi-final shock loss under the guidance of new coach Leigh Potter.
And on Sunday, Anakie welcomes back Jamie Pitman in a homecoming predicted to rival those of LeBron James, Wayne Rooney and Gary Ablett Jnr.
Saturday – April 14
Werribee Centrals vs. Inverleigh
Belmont Lions vs. East Geelong
Thomson vs. Bell Post Hill
North Geelong vs. Corio
Bannockburn vs. Geelong West
Winchelsea vs. Anakie (7:00pm start)
The last three times Thomson has played Bell Post Hill in the home and away season the Tigers have held a strong lead over the league’s powerhouse.
And in all of these last three meetings, Bell Post Hill has found a way to come from behind and win.
The Tigers’ last win over Bell Post Hill took place in Round 3, 2012 at the Myers Reserve. Only four other clubs have defeated the Panthers at senior level since that afternoon.
Belmont and East Geelong will once again play off for the Mark Loomis shield, a momentous occasion for the Lions in their first home match for the season.
Anakie has had the wood over Winchelsea in the ‘Roos vs. Blues rivalry’ after the Blues’ strung together two come-from-behind wins in 2015 and 2016.
The two will playoff under lights for the first time since Round 1, 2015.
This year Geelong West, the reigning wooden spooner, drew level with Bannockburn, the reigning premier, at the final break 13.8 (86).
Nevertheless Bannockburn would replicate its great escape from three seasons earlier creating headaches for Giants and former Cheetahs Justin White, Adam Leamer and Pierce Johnson.
Saturday – April 21
Geelong West vs. North Geelong
Corio vs. Werribee Centrals
Inverleigh vs. Belmont Lions
East Geelong vs. Bell Post Hill
Anakie vs. Bannockburn
Winchelsea vs. Thomson (7:00pm start)
You couldn’t have scripted this one any better if you’re a member of Thomson’s winning A-Grade side.
The Tigers will not be playing Winchelsea until later in the afternoon which allows coaches Shannyn Leach and Errin Lang to observe the contenders.
Thomson will play all four of last year’s finalists over the next five rounds and you’d suspect a lot of note-taking will take place at the Corio vs. Werribee match in particular.
Bell Post Hill premiership star and leading Whitley medal poller Tane Rabbas returns to the Richmond Crescent for the first time since his stint as an Eagle in 2016.
The speedster will be one of seven Panthers who were coached by first year East Geelong coach Jeremy Power at interleague level in 2017, there’s every chance he may have already done enough research on the group.
Belmont’s full back will need to earn some respect when depriving the Hawks of goal-power.
This year Jak Kennedy Hunt had no trouble landing a tally of 15 goals while the year before Paul Carson also added eight in a much closer affair.
Geelong West vs. North Geelong may also be the game of the round; Giant Paul Robinson would be best advised to wear a mouth guard after his horrific clash the last time these sides met.
Wednesday – April 25
Bannockburn vs. Winchelsea
Saturday – April 28
Thomson vs. East Geelong
North Geelong vs. Anakie
Werribee Centrals vs. Geelong West
Sunday – April 29
Belmont Lions vs. Corio
Bell Post Hill vs. Inverleigh
Social opportunities are brought forth this weekend particularly when the six games are spread across three days of action.
Bannockburn hosts the ANZAC Day memorial match for the second straight year with a large crowd from Winchelsea expected on hand.
While the traditional Moorabool valley rivalry between Bannockburn and Inverleigh has been postponed until Round 11, we will still see two towns gather in solidarity to pay their respects.
Three days later Jamie Pitman will hope to guide Anakie to its third straight Ray Priddle Cup victory against his former Magpie side at the Keith Barclay Oval.
Thomson and East Geelong will also playoff for the Elephant & Castle trophy, Polly Rankin shield and just about every other piece of silverware up for grabs in the postcode.
East Geelong’s 13&U netball side will go into the match with confidence after holding off Thomson 28-11 in this year’s season decider.
Then on Sunday 2015 Corio best and fairest will face off against his old side while Bell Post Hill will return home after 22 days on the road to host Inverleigh in the grand final rematch.
Saturday – May 5
Thomson vs. Bannockburn
Inverleigh vs. East Geelong
Geelong West vs. Belmont Lions
Anakie vs. Werribee
Winchelsea vs. North Geelong
Corio vs. Bell Post Hill
After 48 games and 87 goals for the Belmont Lions, the club will reunite with its reigning best and fairest winner Michael Leamer when they cross paths at the West Oval.
The star utility signed with the Giants last month and will cross over with Colac Imperials coach Thomas McKay who may line-up on his former teammates Alex and Adrian Hann.
East Geelong will have an extra day’s break ahead of their game against Inverleigh while Andy Challis will hope to lead the Devils’ to their first win over Bell Post Hill this decade.
The Tiger rivalry appears to be increasing on the netball courts after Thomson’s dominating 65-41 qualifying final win over Bannockburn in A-Grade this year.
While on the football field veterans Reece Holwell (Thomson) and Lincoln Peters (Bannockburn) will want to replicate their ground breaking performances from this year.
Speaking of rivalry, the Werribee vs. Anakie lighting fiasco will be left behind in 2017 when these sides return to the traditional afternoon slot.
More importantly, these two sides will again playoff for the Williamson/Gillett memorial trophy which has been held by Anakie (Werribee refused to accept it in Round 12 this year).
Saturday – May 12
Thomson vs. Inverleigh
Winchelsea vs. Werribee Centrals
East Geelong vs. Corio
Bell Post Hill vs. Geelong West
Bannockburn vs. North Geelong
Belmont Lions vs. Anakie
There are a few games of interest in this round.
Bell Post Hill and Geelong West may be playing off in a top three clash for the first time in recent memory.
However the Giants will still need to recruit a few more A-listers for this to be a top contest.
The Giants’ last win over the Panthers took place at Bakers Oval in the year 2001 and since then the former Cheetah entity has averaged a head to head losing margin of 101-points.
And such was their dominance this year that Bell Post Hill’s captain Cameron Addie, who ironically made his debut at Geelong West, held his opponent to a single kick.
Meanwhile Centurion Luke Cachia had multiple possessions when he played at the Eastern Reserve this year.
The 22-year-old’s most memorable one would be his final kick after the siren, handing his a narrow one-point win – who will step up to the plate in 2018?
Shannyn Leach (Thomson) and Errin Lang (Thomson) will face off against Kelsey Whyte (Inverleigh) after finishing in the top three of this year’s Margaret Webb medal count.
It will also be interesting to see if Whitley medalist Jak Kennedy Hunt polls a vote for Inverleigh in his first match at the Godfrey Street Oval.
Andy Challis also returns to the Richmond Crescent, this time in opposing colours.
Saturday – May 19
Saturday – May 26
North Geelong vs. Thomson
East Geelong vs. Geelong West
Belmont Lions vs. Winchelsea
Werribee Centrals vs. Bannockburn
Bell Post Hill vs. Anakie
Inverleigh vs. Corio
If the six goal haul from Jayden Ettridge on grand final day did not tick off Anakie fans then the late mark and goal from Mitch Gavin was certainly salt in the wound.
Bell Post Hill’s premierships have featured former Roos’ in recent years, strengthening the powerhouse side from end to end in each campaign.
Now it’s time for Anakie to make a statement and the return of Jamie Pitman may trim the margin after the 2015 Whitley medalist recorded four goals on premier defender Cameron Addie.
Bannockburn and Werribee will continue to play off for the King of the Highway trophy while on the netball courts some mouth-watering match-ups will make for the game of the round.
North Geelong and Thomson will play off twice in the home and away season for the first time since 2015 – are the two sides bound for a third straight senior elimination final match-up?
Only a kick separated the Giants from the Eagles the last time these sides met at the Richmond Crescent before Geelong West responded with an eight point win in Round 18.
However the captain’s curse took place when Scott Jervies’ omission (flu) cost him a Geelong West best and fairest while Eagle Ashley Brown suffered a broken collarbone.
Let’s hope for a less dramatic afternoon on this round.
Saturday – June 2
Geelong West vs. Inverleigh
Anakie vs. East Geelong
Winchelsea vs. Bell Post Hill
Bannockburn vs. Belmont Lions
North Geelong vs. Werribee Centrals
Thomson vs. Corio
There’s a rumour that the Geelong West Giants will be blasting the Youth Group track “Forever Young” out of the P.A system when Curtis Young leads his side onto the ground.
Well, that may not be true… nevertheless the 26-year-old will still be playing off against his former Inverleigh teammates and will do so with pride and honour.
He would only suffer two defeats in his 31-game stint with the Hawks nevertheless a painful omission from the side during this year’s finals series will inspire his drive in 2018.
The Magpies were saved by the siren in Round 15 this year when battling both the Centurions as well as gale force winds at the Civilex Oval.
Perhaps another 80m goal from Mount Waverly star Jackson Smith will be the difference when he dons the Werribee colours in 2018?
After tough tests against Bannockburn, Inverleigh and North Geelong the back to back campaign continues for Thomson’s A-Grade side when hosting premiership contender Corio.
Corio failed to register a win last year before storming up the ladder this season.
The result of this match will be a great indicator of their progress when approaching the halfway mark of the season.
Saturday – June 9
Bell Post Hill vs. Bannockburn
Inverleigh vs. Anakie
East Geelong vs. Winchelsea
Belmont Lions vs. North Geelong
Werribee Centrals vs. Thomson
Corio vs. Geelong West
If Bell Post Hill and Bannockburn playoff for a second senior grand final in the space three years then this will be the only preview during the home and away season.
The Panthers would find the final ten goals in the 2016 season decider to the delight of their supporters.
Yet it would add sting to Tiger heroes Brad Watts and BJ Harding, a decade after their 2006 grand final defeat to Thomson.
This may be an appropriate afternoon to rank the best ruckmen with Renn Lovitt likely to combat against Ben Stretton and Kieran Fulton, Ben Allison (Corio) to host Scott Jervies (Geelong West) and James Huybens (Inverleigh) against fellow medal poller Luke Wilson (Anakie).
Ultimately, this round features the two powerhouse sides of the league’s A-Grade netball competition in their grand final rematch.
Saturday – June 16
Thomson vs. Geelong West
Anakie vs. Corio
Werribee Centrals vs. Belmont Lions
Bell Post Hill vs. North Geelong
Winchelsea vs. Inverleigh
Bannockburn vs. East Geelong
The absence of Justin White (suspension) was evident when the Giants bowed out of finals contention at the Godfrey Street Oval.
This is now his chance to spark some excitement on the ground that he became familiar with during his season as a Tiger in 2016.
Jak Kennedy Hunt may not be known to many as a former Winchelsea player however when the former Blue returned to the Eastern Reserve this season he left his mark with a ten goal haul.
Winchelsea is a side capable of playing finals football in 2018 however they cannot let the star forward off the leash nor can they concede another 100+ point loss.
Bannockburn and East Geelong will meet with gusto on the netball courts, the Eagles will hope to go back to back in the 15&U competition after holding off the Tigers 21-17 in the grand final.
For almost a decade there would be no arguments in nominating North Geelong and Bell Post Hill as the game of the round.
However the Panthers’ astronomical win over their former rival in Round 17 this year saw them score 21 of the final 23 goals; such was the gap between the two sides.
Perhaps the comradery between the Anakie and Corio playing groups can contribute to the afternoon’s narrative; both proud clubs aiming to end a finals drought.
Saturday – June 23
Inverleigh vs. Bannockburn
Geelong West vs. Anakie
East Geelong vs. North Geelong
Bell Post Hill vs. Werribee Centrals
Belmont Lions vs. Thomson
Corio vs. Winchelsea
For the second straight year Inverleigh will have to wait until Round 11 to take on a prime contender.
This season we counted down the weeks before Cameron Addie (Bell Post Hill) would mark down Jak Kennedy Hunt (Inverleigh) only for the forward to still find eight scoring shots (3.5).
Now the wait will be on for the battle of the Shane Dillion trophy between the Hawks and the Tigers – again, we may have a grand final preview on our hands.
Expect a large crowd at Inverleigh with both sides expected to unleash recruits; an impressive thought given both sides are already spoilt with interleague stars and team of the year members.
Jessica Hayes helped guide the Giants to back to back wins when they last played Anakie, let’s hope for their sake that we do not have to wait until they playoff agsinst the Roos again.
First year Werribee Centrals coach Nick Smith will hope to close the gap between his side and the reigning premiers; the Centurions last victory over the Panthers dates back to 2010.
East Geelong will hope to re-spark its senior finals rivalry with North Geelong from earlier in the decade while Corio coach Andy Challis will reunite with another of his former clubs.
Saturday – June 30
North Geelong vs. Inverleigh
Belmont Lions vs. Bell Post Hill
Bannockburn vs. Corio
Winchelsea vs. Geelong West
Thomson vs. Anakie
Werribee Centrals vs. East Geelong
The last time Geelong West travelled to Winchelsea, the Giants held a late 44-point lead only to go down by a point at the final siren.
Ironically former Geelong West star Daniel Sprigg would register the Blues’ first goal of the match, it would be the first of seven straight before teenager Bailey Kahle found the winner.
Justin Di Blasio will now return to his former ground to reunite with many of his former 2013 premiership teammates.
Inverleigh will hire a security guard to monitor the safety of its 2017 C-Grade trophy when the remainder of the club travel to North Geelong.
The Magpies dominated the competition only to go down to Inverleigh on grand final day.
And we have “Bell Post Hill vs. the Witney brothers: Part 2”, let’s some the sequel will be just as good as the original.
Saturday – July 7
Inverleigh vs. Werribee Centrals
East Geelong vs. Belmont Lions
Bell Post Hill vs. Thomson
Corio vs. North Geelong
Geelong West vs. Bannockburn
Anakie vs. Winchelsea
While Bell Post Hill and Thomson would have already met in Round 2, this would be a great opportunity for the Panthers to unfurl their reserves premiership flag.
The Panthers held Thomson to a single goal in this year’s grand final thanks to the names of Russell Douglass, Jordan Flaccavento, Benjamin Muir, Justin Tarr and playing coach Joshua Bacely.
Belmont was unable to host East Geelong this year, a shame considering it was the ten year reunion of Lions’ historic grand final win over their arch rival.
Now the Lions’ have been granted a golden opportunity, expect a large crowd for the battle of the bridge.
Anakie and Winchelsea played off in a climatic B-Grade match last year with the Roos’ holding on to a 37-33 victory.
Let’s hope these two developing sides can replicate the thriller?
Saturday – July 14
Belmont Lions vs. Inverleigh
Bell Post Hill vs. East Geelong
Werribee Centrals vs. Corio
Saturday – July 21
North Geelong vs. Geelong West
Bannockburn vs. Anakie
Thomson vs. Winchelsea
In recent years Inverleigh has showcased blockbuster games on the first week of the split round before a large crowd under the winter’s sun.
This year hundreds gathered for the Inverleigh vs. Bannockburn match which saw Jakeb Templeton land the winning goal to his adoring fans.
Now the Hawks will be travelling to the Winter Resort against Belmont, one of the many unknown commodities of this upcoming season.
If Thomson’s first half of the year is to exhausting than there’s every chance we Werribee and Corio will face off in the top of the table A-Grade match.
The following week either of the three matches may be the game of the week given all six of the participating sides should still be in finals contention.
The Blues accidentally fielded 19 players when they last travelled to Thomson, it is unlikely that we will see this take place again in season 2018.
Saturday – July 28
Inverleigh vs. Bell Post Hill
East Geelong vs. Thomson
Corio vs. Belmont Lions
Geelong West vs. Werribee Centrals
Anakie vs. North Geelong
Winchelsea vs. Bannockburn
They faced off four times last year and then another three times in 2017.
Yet who could be sick of the rivalry between Bell Post Hill and Inverleigh?
Four of their past seven meetings have been decided by a kick and there’s every chance that these two sides will again showcase another thrilling contest before a large crowd.
Werribee and East Geelong may have a leg up on their respective opponents on this afternoon when facing Geelong West and Thomson due to the extra week’s break.
The past two times Anakie and North Geelong have played off none of the GDFL tipsters gave the Roos a chance only for Chris Moore’s side to pull off an upset victory on each occasion.
Perhaps the Jamie Pitman factor add some extra flavour to the clash?
Derek Fitzsimmons and Steve Richert also donned the Anakie jumper many years ago.
And Corio ruckman Ben Allison will also host his former club Belmont, assuming the Devil signs on for a second year…
Saturday – August 4
East Geelong vs. Inverleigh
Bell Post Hill vs. Corio
Belmont Lions vs. Geelong West
Werribee Centrals vs. Anakie
North Geelong vs. Winchelsea
Bannockburn vs. Thomson
There may be mixed emotions for Michael Leamer when he returns to the Jetts Oval.
The 29-year-old won the past two Belmont Lions’ best and fairest awards and played a crucial role in the club’s drought breaking finals campaign in 2015.
He now has a larger task ahead of him given Geelong West’s long hiatus from the final five, Giants fans will hope he is three games away from playing finals at this stage of the year.
Once again, the Williamson/Gillett memorial trophy will be up for grabs between Anakie and Werribee.
When the two sides last met at the Civilex Oval Werribee won the night match which came to a sudden end after half time when the venue’s lights went out.
The GDFL, under the advice of AFL Barwon, awarded the four points to Werribee however the Centurions refused to accept the trophy which is still held by Anakie.
Saturday – August 11
Inverleigh vs. Thomson
Corio vs. East Geelong
Geelong West vs. Bell Post Hill
Anakie vs. Belmont Lions
Werribee Centrals vs. Winchelsea
North Geelong vs. Bannockburn
If you were to conjure up each club by association of their respective fans then the Centurions would be known for their sense of humour.
While they may have received the four points in this year’s light tower fiasco under the AFL Laws of the Game (10.6.2) rule, the club also conceded four points to Winchelsea in Round 2.
On this occasion a lightning storm had taken place, halting the match for a period greater than 30 minutes.
So when asked about the 2018 fixture, Werribee’s club secretary Alan Stewart contributed one of the memorable quotes of the year.
“We’ll now be playing Winchelsea for the Lightning Cup”.
The sides each recorded one head to head win, now it will be interesting to see where they meet on the ladder by Round 17, 2018.
Corio playing coach Andy Challis will face off against his former East Geelong side for a second time in 2018.
A dual league best and fairest in the AFL London competition, the 27-year-old is already a chance to be Corio’s first Whitley medalist since Ricky O’Toole back in 2003.
Saturday – August 18
Corio vs. Inverleigh
Geelong West vs. East Geelong
Anakie vs. Bell Post Hill
Winchelsea vs. Belmont Lions
Bannockburn vs. Werribee Centrals
Thomson vs. North Geelong
Last year the top five was decided midway through the season before this year the same five clubs were locked in with a week to go.
It may be an early call nevertheless there’s a great chance the participants of the 2018 GDFL finals series will not be determined until the final weekend of the home and away season.
By Alex Tigani
GDFL Media (17/11/2017)