Premier & Premier Reserve Season Preview
On the eve of the 2023/24 Metro Pennant season, and with the introuction of the new Premier Reserve division, here are some insights from the events team. Do you agree with their predictions, or have they got it all wrong?
PREMIER A PREVIEW
It’s hard to improve on a back end that includes the likes of Ben Loughlin, Dane McKinnon and Nathan Wilson, but that’s exactly what Altona have done. With Matty Ellul making the move from Melbourne and the addition of brothers Cam Wilson and Aaron Wilson, Altona have set themselves up for a tilt at the finals. The abundance of star power and consistency in the front end will be the key to making a splash come finals time.
One to watch – Aaron Wilson. How can you not want to watch the dual Comm Games singles gold medallist.
Not too much movement at Bundoora, which is a good thing as they aim to go deeper into finals this year, having lost both elimination finals in the previous two years. Gary Kelly and Corey Wedlock remain as marquee players, with Ben Winther added as the 3rd, meaning the back-end unit remains mainly unchanged. The key will be finding the right combinations to make it all click.
One to watch – Josh Corless. Always exciting to watch, he’ll look to be a leader in this Bundy side as they start another run for the flag.
Last season’s runners-up have had some change, losing the likes of Blake Nairn and Alan Veitch, but have recruited well to replace, with Ryan Bester, Nick Cahill and Natasha Van Eldik signed as marquee players. Still led by the highly experienced Ali Forsyth and Todd Simmons, they’ll be as hard to beat as ever. Could be tough to repeat last year’s effort based on the strength of the competition, but don’t rule them out.
One to watch – Nick Cahill. A player in form who’s looking forward to making his mark in the competition.
Last year’s winners have somehow strengthened their squad and appear to be the team to beat again. Aron Sherriff, arguably the worlds #1 player right now returns, as does the popular Sean Ingham, with Matty Baus added for some more firepower. Smart recruitments like Winston Brackley and Chris Green only add to the depth available. It’s hard to look past Deer Park for the flag.
One to watch – James Pearce. Current Vic State Rep who always has a consistent rink at Deer Park, winning far more than he loses.
Big movement down at MCC, with Dale Jones, Dave Hoareau and Ash Rowan joining from Mentone to bolster the squad and give this team more depth. With the backend from the #1 rink in Premier last year still together (Scott Mortimer and Max Goldsmith), MCC will be a team confident of going better than their 5th placed finish last season (only 2 points off the finals)!
One to watch – Scott Mortimer. Last season’s top skip in Premier League, he has a settled rink and is a destructive player on his day.
Whilst they’ve lost 2 back-end players in Matty Ellul (Altona) and Alex Skilton (Moonee Valley), they’re still a team nobody wants to play. Smart recruitment has seen Ben Hughes and Jay Tootell come in, along with Queensland young gun Jake Rynne and some very handy front-end players with high ambitions. The Dees will have to dig deep this season, but with experienced campaigners such as Bryce Young, Ben Fearn and Curtis Hanely, and star power in Brett Spurr, they’ll be hard to beat and looking to cause damage come finals time once again.
One to watch – Brett Spurr. Because if you take your eyes off him, you’ll miss something.
This is the team everybody wants to watch, and you’ll get the chance in Round 2 when they take on MCC in the livestreamed game. Confident, loud, fun, and now they’ve added some real star power. Current Vic Singles Champion Matty O’Brien heads this list, as well as marquee Kane Nelson from Queensland and new recruit Alex Skilton, giving the Valley an abundance of match winners. Our inaugural VBL qualifying winners, they can make big waves in their first season in Premier.
One to Watch – Matty O’Brien. A player in great form, playing in a side he should be comfortable in, the sky’s the limit.
The Dogs have recruited exceptionally well, with SA marquee players Craig Mills, Nathan Black and Jayden Zeller coming in. They’ve also added a host of Victorian talent, including current State Mixed Pairs champions Vinnie McIlwain and Kirsty Van Den Hoff. The Dogs were formidable when taking out the VBL2 title last month and will be in the mix for a spot in the top four.
One to watch – Craig Mills. The SA man was immense at VBL and should make his mark on the Victorian competition.
PREMIER A – Final Four Predictions (in no particular order)
|Deer Park||Deer Park||Deer Park|
PREMIER RESERVE PREVIEW
With recruits such as Alan Veitch and marquee player Jarryd Davies, Dandy will be contenders. The form of local talents such as Kris Paine will be key to how deep they can go.
Have recruited well as always, with Koby and Tim Cromie as well as Ethan Freund and Mayson Bayliss, coming in to join the likes of Brad Willoughby and Ant Flapper. Essendon are looking good to return to Premier A.
Last season’s Premier play-off losers, Fitzroy have kept the bulk of their team together and will look to make an immediate return to Premier A. With the likes of Brad Janner, Matty Blackburn and Chris Ritchie, Fitzroy are always impressive at home, even taking the scalp of Deer Park last year.
A club on the rise, Heathmont have been a force in the east in recent years. With the addition of a new coach in Barry Ward, and the likes of Ethan Mills joining strong players like Nick Dawe and Darren Mays, not only will Heathmont be after the mantle of best Eastern Ranges club, they’ll also have one eye on promotion.
Talking of strong Eastern Ranges clubs, Lilydale have been just that in recent years. Keeping a strong unit of players together such as Josh Sanders, Daniel Woodrow and Jess Wallace, will lead to a side who have experience playing and winning together. Lilydale will be there right till the end.
Mentone have lost a few back-end players for this season but are never easy to beat, home or away. They’ll need the likes of Dean Arthur and Brad Foote to fire, and hope that the young Murphy twins have a breakout season.
Boasting two of the most impressive marquee players in all of Premier, with Barrie Lester and Nathan Rice committing for 23/24, the addition of the in-form Sammy Atkinson gives Richmond a solid base to build from in Premier Reserve. They were impressive at times last year, the key being consistency, which if they find it will make them dangerous.
With the loss of Ben Winther being offset with a great pick up in Jordan Yates, Whittlesea look primed for a good year. Jack Woodhouse and Mick Gardner also come in to join the likes of Mikalya Long, Nick McIntyre and Kyle Williams, meaning Whittlesea have a great blend of season campaigners and youthful exuberance.
PREMIER A – Final Four Predictions (in no particular order)
|Heatmont||Fitzroy Victoria||Richmond Union|
LIVESTREAM SCHEDULE – Prior to Christmas
|Friday, 20 October 2023||7pm||1||Deer Park||Clayton|
|Friday, 27 October 2023||7pm||2||MCC||Moonee Valley|
|Friday, 3 November 2023||7pm||3||Altona||MCC|
|Friday, 10 November 2023||7pm||4||Clayton||Melbourne|
|Friday, 24 November 2023||7pm||6||Melbourne||Deer Park|
|Friday, 1 December 2023||7pm||7||Yarraville Footscray||MCC|
|Friday, 8 December 2023||7pm||8||Bundoora||Altona|
|Friday, 15 December 2023||7pm||9||Deer Park||Yarraville Footscray|