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Round 1 Preview - Essendon Ford Division 1

By TARA MURRAY (Star Weekly)


JACANA v WESTMEADOWS – Watch on Facebook Live from Friday 7pm

THE perfect way to kick off Round 1, with a Friday night blockbuster between last season's Strathmore Community Bank Division 2 premiers and a side looking to climb back up the ladder.

The Jaguars will unveil their premiership flag before what is hopefully a good crowd and early signs are they won't be push overs in the higher grade.

They've kept most of the premiership side intact and added a few more players. Cameron Cloke is the biggest loss, but they found a handy replacement in his older brother, Jason.

The Jaguars will be looking to make sure they do enough to stay in Essendon Ford Division 1 and possibly look at playing finals.

Most of the talk during the off-season about the Tigers has centred around Dane Swan.

With Swan not expected to play here, it will be a good chance to get a look at the other new recruits like Dean Clare, Aaron Ramsey and Jesse Bowe.

The Tigers also look set to continue playing the younger guys, with many of them having played under new senior coach Grant Smith, who previously coached the Under 19.5 side.

TAYLORS LAKES v EAST KEILOR

We've already had a glimpse of Taylors Lakes and they proved no match for Hillside in their Good Friday clash.

The Lions have added more forward depth with the hope of becoming a higher-scoring team, but are well aware of where they sit this season.

The Lions only missed out on finals last season by percentage, but it will be a challenge to take the next step in what is expected to be a really close division.

The Cougars are one side that is looking to overtake them and they haven't been shy in stating a premiership is the aim this season.

The Cougars have been among the big players on the recruiting front, including signing Strathmore duo Matthew Knight and Tom Gleeson, Dion Hill, Tom Madden, David House, Will Considine, Michael Licciaro and James Philpot.

If the Cougars gel early on, it will be dangerous signs for the other sides, with the team also having some talented youth coming through as well.

CRAIGIEBURN v HILLSIDE

These two sides shape as two of the most interesting sides heading into the Division 1 season.

The Sharks played Division 1 finals for the first time last season and they have managed to keep most of their squad intact as they look at getting a finals win and possibly going even further.

They need to take that next step to hold off the chasing teams, and they've already accounted for Taylors Lakes in their traditional Good Friday clash.

If the Sharks are one of the more interesting sides, then the Eagles are the most intriguing.

Craigieburn is back down from Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division (where they didn't win a match) with a completely new line-up, having lost some experienced guys like Aaron Kite and Josh Young.

How the new guys all fit in will be the question and whether it takes them a little while to settle.

Expecting these Eagles to have a few more wins than they had last year.

TULLAMARINE v OAK PARK – Saturday 6pm

Tullamarine has been one of the big movers over the off-season and we get our first opportunity to look at them under lights here.

David Connell has come on-board as coach and they haven't messed around on the recruiting front.

Former Carlton player Anthony Franchina heads the recruits.

Having played finals the last few years, the Demons are one side that will be looking to be among the mix and have a real crack at the grand final.

Like the Demons, Oak Park is a side that is always in the mix.

Last season they missed finals by a game and percentage and have kept most of that side together.

They were disappointed in several aspects in their game and have looked to work on them in the off-season.

Only Dean Clare, who has gone to Westmeadows, has left, while they've added David Price, Trent Lang, Mitch Robinson and Issac Willet.

Promoting from within is another area they've really focused on, so we’ll likely see plenty of fresh talent in blue and white here.

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