GV/L Football Previews R1 with Sam Saracino


The Swans will be desperate to leap up the ladder and it has a huge opportunity to test improvement when it welcomes last year’s preliminary finalist, Euroa. Last season only yielded four wins from 18 matches for the Swans.

While they were competitive in many of those losses, lack of firepower was likely their undoing. They have gone a long way to addressing that in recruiting Matt Perry and the return of Mitch Bell.

But they are coming up against a team expected to be there when the whips are cracking.

Ryan Pendlebury takes the reins of a team that is firmly in the premiership window. Adding Dan and Tom Garside coupled with the return of Pendlebury’s close mate Jack Hellier, and the Pies have every reason to think they can challenge for the silverware. Tip: Euroa.


Shepparton will be looking to kick-off in style when it welcomes last round loser Mansfield.

The Bears were one of the form teams of the second half of 2023, winning more times than it lost, but it still missed the finals.

Mansfield was given a football lesson by the reigning premier at home last round.

Coach Jack Hutchins and the Eagles will be desperate to put up a better performance, knowing the importance of early wins.

The return of some premiership players back to Deakin Reserve, including ruckman Ash Holland is sure to be welcomed by the fans.

I think with the return of those players and the fact that the game is at Deakin Reserve, I think Shepparton can start with a win. Tip: Shepparton.


This is a huge opportunity for two of the league’s 2023 cellar dwellers to kick start their campaign with a win.

The Saints will be coached by former Carlton and North Melbourne forward Jarrod Waite. His priority will be to get his team to play consistently each week.

With the departure of Broady Webster, Josh Mellington and the retirement of Josh Marchbank, the Saints have recruited Mark Marriott and lured back Patrick Warner.

Rochester hasn’t lost anyone of note and have recruited seven new or returning players.

The Tigers finished 10th with four wins in 2023 and coach Ash Watson will be hoping for a clean bill of health for his more experienced core group to try and lead them to a few more wins in 2024. Tip: Rochester.


United faces a massive challenge when it takes on the reigning premier, Echuca.

The Murray Bombers will unfurl its premiership flag and then it will be down to business, just like it was in Mansfield on Easter Saturday. Echuca’s statement win in the High Country was a warning to the other 11 teams that it is as hungry as ever.

Angus Byrne was a star up forward and he will need to be kept in check by the Demons defence.

United will turn to its leadership group led by Kyle Clarke and Jesse Cucinotta to ensure they keep pace with the Murray Bombers.

The Eagles did well to keep pace with the reigning premier for a half, but then the Green Machine flexed their muscles in the second half to run away with an 82-point win. I think they will be too strong for the Demons. Tip: Echuca.


How the year plays out for these two finalists from 2023 could be vastly different in 2024.

Many believe Kyabram will be contending while others believe the Cats could slide down the ladder following some key outs including Jackson Trengove and Chris Nield. The duo combined for 100+ of Mooroopna’s goals.

Kyabram has welcomed back Morrison Medallist Mick Mattingly. His return is complimented by Eamonn Ogden coupled with the trio from Mt Gravatt, with the most notable of these inclusions being the ruckman Marcus Khoo, who will fill the void left by Zac Norris who will miss the early part of the season as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

I see this being a real arm wrestle and it is likely to come down who can use the footy better and be more efficient going inside 50. And with that I am going to Kyabram in a close one. Tip: Kyabram.


Does Tatura have the playing list to make the jump into the finals and can Seymour bounce back from a disappointing straight-sets exit from the 2023 premiership race?

There hasn’t been a big turnover of players at Kings Park, but one notable out is Morrison Medallist Jack O’Sullivan who has departed to coach Wodonga Bulldogs.

But the Lions are hoping to offset that key departure with the inclusion of ex-Fremantle Docker David Mundy and Tom Maloney.

Tatura under former Bomber Paul Barnard is expected to be a much better unit. The return of brothers Matt and Brad Ryan gives the Bulldogs some height at either of the ground.

Throw in the other new faces including former Port Adelaide player Aidyn Johnson, I genuinely think the Dogs will be able to improve their 5-13 record of 2023.

I think they will give the Lions a run for their money, but I think it may take time for the Dogs to knit together as a unit. Tip: Seymour.