SAFL early season analysis
by Jeremy Lamberton
The Lismore Swans have had a dream start to the season, knocking the Ballina Bombers from their perch with a convincing win in round two. The Swans fronted up with 10 changes from their grand final team last year a massive turnover attributed to a wave of fresh university talent. Among these is gun half back flank Nick Heyward, who was inspiring in his Swans debut, and Harley Lloyd, who was another big contributor. Retaining players for the whole year has always been a weakness for Lismore, and preventing this loss will be integral in mounting their premiership challenge.
Ballina and Byron sit roughly in the same position with only one win apiece and are yet to really fulfill their potential. The Bombers problem is that they are still relying heavily on Peter Plummer to kick the majority of their goals and if he is shut down then the Bombers forward line can be easily choked. As was the case last year, Sam Kennedy has been the revelation on the wing, with Craig Borley starting solid in the centre square. Byron, known slow starters, began with an unconvincing win over Casino and followed it with a bye, so they will undoubtedly come out after the break with a few surprises in store for Lismore. Their ruck combination and tall forward line, including Magpie bigman John Porritt, will surely test most teams defences.
The Casino Lions have recovered from pre-season fears that they would be short on players and are now enjoying the fruits of high player numbers. Gerard Oliver is looking good up front and he is well supported by the core group the Lions have established over the past few years. Murwillumbah, on the other hand, remain in dire need of new players.