North Pilbara Football League clubs get set for Anzac day bounce down
Bounce down is just around the corner, with clubs putting the finishing touches on their pre-season training for round one of the North Pilbara Football.
Reigning premiers Dampier Sharks will be out to prove their unbeaten run to the grand final was no fluke last year while Karratha Kats will be seeking revenge after falling short in the final dance the last three years.
Meanwhile Wickham Wolves and Port Hedland Rovers will be seeking to go further in their campaign after both clubs reached the finals last year.
The Karratha Falcons and South Hedland Swans are aiming to improve on their 2021 efforts and make the finals this year.
The NPFL season will kick off with round one on April 22 when Karratha Kats take on their rivals Karratha Falcons, while South Hedland will face Port Hedland and the final match will see Dampier Sharks go up against Wickham Wolves on April 23.
A dream unbeaten run in the 2021 season saw the Dampier Sharks dominate their rivals and claim the flag and end a 12-year premiership drought.
Going into the 2022 season the club will be looking for another run at the flag to prove their historic run was not a fluke.
Last year’s dominance saw every individual accolade went Dampier’s way as Guy Langdon took out the best and fairest De Grey Medal and Shane McIntosh was the league’s leading goal kicker with 61.
The clubs reserves squad will also be hitting the track with a point to prove after completing the double for the club with a premiership victory over the Karratha Kats in the reserves grand final.
The Kats will once again aim for a premiership tilt after making the grand final the last three years but falling short at the final hurdle.
The club enters the season celebrating its 50th year with a new coach at the helm.
Kats looked imposing during their pre season scratch match, controlling the ball and the play when they faced off against Port Hedland Rovers on April.
Speaking to the Pilbara News after the scratch match, new coach Mark Mahoney, who took over the reins from Craig Baker, said he was pleased with his players’ performance.
“It’s just a nice trial to see where the boys are at in regard to training and get some football into their legs,” he said.
“It was the first hit-out, we had a lot of new guys and a lot of young kids.”
Mahoney said the club, which enters its 50th year, was raring to go this season.
“It’s good to start the football season. Everyone just wants to start playing footy and it’s going to be a cracker,” he said.
The reserves side will be out for revenge after falling to Dampier Sharks in the grand final last year 9.10 (64) to 2.2 (14).
Port Hedland Rovers
A revitalised Port Hedland Rovers is rearing to hit the track with coach Joe Ewan bringing a renewed focus on depth and fitness to the club.
The Rovers season ended in week one of the finals when they were audited by Wickham Wolves 16.16 (112) to 3.4 (22).
Ewan said the side hit the track in early January.
“We’re aiming higher this year where aiming for a competitive top two,” he said.
“We spent a lot of time recruiting and generating some depth, not only in the in our league team, but also in our younger players that will be succeeding these boys in the next two or three years.”
Ewan said the key to the Rovers performing well this season would be their depth and decision making under fatigue.
“So just pushing the boys to that barrier where they’re exhausted and then making them do some decision making,” he said.
“Emulating what you’re doing a game and we’ve been doing it for the last three months in our preseason.”
The Wolves claimed the premiership in 2019 and have had two strong seasons since but will be aiming to replicate their 2019 feat.
A strong season in 2021 saw Wickham look ready for another premiership tilt before falling agonisingly short in the preliminary final against the Kats.
The back-and-forth game showed the clubs strength but saw Wolves go down by two points 10.10 (70) to 10.8 (68) in a nail-biter.
The league side finished the season with eight regular season wins and seven losses and sat third on the ladder.
Meanwhile, the reserves squad will be hoping for a much improved season after claiming the wooden spoon last year with three wins and 12 losses.
Karratha Falcons had an up and down season in 2021, at moments the club looked set to build on momentum and try and capitalise when they are in control.
Falcons season saw the side claim the wooden spoon with a record of 2-12.
The scorecard did not show the whole story, with Falcons putting up strong performances in the losses, regularly competing for three quarters before fading.
Falcons president Beau Corps said the club had some good numbers and were quietly confident.
“Hopefully this year is the year that we get some early wins on the board that translates to a good season,” he said.
Corps said the club had been “there or thereabouts” last year but were unable to finish off games.
“I think we’ve got a few decent experienced players this year that have come on board that will just help us score those extra crucial goals and just just have a bit more belief in that team as well,” he said.
“We’d love to play finals. it’s been a while since we have and I think we do have the team to be able to do it,” he said.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant or big headed, but I think we’ve got a decent team.
“As long as everyone stays in the park and fit as always we’re we’re quite confident of doing pretty well this year.”
South Hedland Swans.
The 2020 premiers had a dramatic fall last season, recording just four wins from 15 games and finishing fifth on the ladder.
The club will hope a new season brings a change of fortune after a disappointing end to last year’s season.
A highlight for the Swans was a thrilling derby victory over the Rovers in round 10.
The season still had its highlights with midfielder Angus Young finished second in the prestigious De Grey Medal as the side unearthed some young talent for the future.
The Swans reserves made it to the preliminary final but lost to eventual premiers Dampier by seven points.
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