Round 1 Preview v Perth

Saturday, March 31, 2018 - 9:00 AM by Chris Pike

 

Swan Districts begins life under a new coach and is looking to build on the growth of 2017 beginning the 2018 WAFL season this Saturday against Perth at Lathlain Park.

Round 1 of the 2018 WAFL season will take place over the Easter Break and that will see the Swan Districts-Perth clash at Lathlain Park as the only one in the traditional 2.15pm time slot.

It will provide the ideal opportunity for all Swans fans and members to head to Lathlain Park and see how the black-and-whites have worked over summer to get ready for 2018 and to try to start off the new season in the best possible fashion.

There has been plenty of change since Swan Districts lost the 2017 first semi-final to South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, but that was the conclusion to a season that showed tremendous growth.

Just 12 months earlier, Swans won only two games in 2016 to claim the wooden spoon.

But by 2017 the improvement was rapid as the black-and-whites finished the home and away season in fourth position before recording an impressive elimination final victory against West Perth at Steel Blue Oval.

While the season ended the following week at the hands of the Bulldogs at the port, it could be considered nothing but a success and now the black-and-whites will look to build on that further in 2018.

The most significant change at Swans has been the transition from Greg Harding as coach to Adam Pickering taking over the helm of the league side.

Harding had coached Swans from 2011 up until the end of last season after a successful stint in charge of the colts, and now he is back coaching the colts with Pickering receiving his first opportunity to be a senior coach.

Swans have lost some experience from last year in the form of Tallan Ames, Ryan Crowley, Jamie Bennell and Ricky Cary, but there has been some impressive arrivals and returns too.

The most significant signing has been of Rhys Palmer on the back of his 123-game AFL career at Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and Carlton.

Despite an ankle injury suffered during last Saturday's pre-season win over Claremont at Steel Blue Oval, Pickering remains confident Palmer will be there for his Swan Districts debut on Saturday at Lathlain Park.

"It looked pretty nasty at the time and he rolled the ankle," Pickering said.

"I think it was the first time he has ever rolled an ankle so it was a bit of a shock for him actually how bad it was.

"But by the end of the game he was walking on it, iced it up and he's right to go. He'll play this week."

Palmer isn’t the only impressive arrival at Swans for 2018 with a former teammate of Pickering's, hard-running wingman Steven Payne, on board having played 106 games with the Royals and winning a fairest and best award.

Murray Newman is also back at the club while Nathan Blakely is as well to further strengthen the ruck department and form a potentially match-winning duo with reigning Swan Medallist Corey Gault.

That all sets the stage for a fascinating season-opener on Saturday against Perth at Lathlain Park.

The Demons are coming off another wooden spoon season in 2017 but will want to show strong signs of improvement to open 2018.

They have added some talent to their group too including Ben Giobbi, Mitch Lague, Matthew Taylor and Corey Yeo for coach Earl Spalding to work with.

Swans head into the clash having won its last three games against Perth having won each meeting of 2017 to the tune of 12, 33 and seven points, including the last two that were at Lathlain Park.

The game will be broadcast live on 91.3 SportFM from 2pm.
 

WAFL SEASON 2018 – ROUND 1

Swan Districts v Perth – Lathlain Park

League – 2.15pm

Reserves – 11.30am

Colts – 9.00am