Dragons look to rise again

DOWN TO EARTH: West Whyalla are hoping to save their best footy for season's end.
DOWN TO EARTH: West Whyalla are hoping to save their best footy for season's end.

It seemed almost inconceivable that at the end of the 2020 Whyalla Football League Season, the league juggernauts of West Whyalla would not be holding the premiership cup aloft.

The heavy favourite going into last year's Grand Final against Central, having gone through the COVID-shortened season undefeated, the Dragons were hoping to claim a record-equalling fifth consecutive premiership.

But the plucky Roosters turned the table on West, slamming on four goals in the fourth quarter in a game which had been an arm-wrestle all afternoon to claim their first flag since 2007.

Dragons Coach Brad Smith has been left to pick up the pieces after this unexpected upset - but he believes this year West can play their best footy at the business end of the season.

"We're looking forward to having a full season this year, the stop-start last year didn't help us," he said.

"We didn't peak at the right time, the full season gives us a long time to work on our system and structures. We want to play our best footy at the back end of the year which we didn't do last year.

"Last year we played our best footy early in the season and then kind of petered out, so this year we have a different approach."

Mr Smith says the team will be aiming to rebuild after the Grand Final loss, but still believes the Dragons will be "around the mark" for 2021.

"Our season aim will be to make the four and go from there," he said.

In terms of personnel, West have added midfield-forward Clay Crompton from Roopena and have welcomed the return of handy utility Sam Connell.

"Clay is a very big recruit for the club, we've tried to get him for the past few years and we finally got him over so we're really excited about that," Coach Smith said.

Unfortunately the Dragons have also lost several quality players to opposition teams, but Coach Smith is confident that the club's new recruits and a number of young players ready to take the step up to A Grade can fill the roles.

"The club's hoping to improve within with some 18-21 year olds who have been playing regular A Grade footy, that's where we're hoping to get some improvement from," he said.

"We have a strong senior core still intact."

NEXT: Central, North

Clay is a very big recruit for the club, we've tried to get him for the past few years and we finally got him.

Brad Smith