SUMMER is still a week away from ending but the signs are already ominous — Dennington has every chance to avenge its 2013 grand final heartbreak.
The Dogs proved they will again be a Warrnambool and District league force by winning the inaugural pre-season cup at Friendly Societies’ Park on Saturday.
A 4.5 (29) to 1.0 (6) defeat of Melbourne club North Old Boys-St Patrick’s sealed the title and earned the red and whites $1000 prizemoney.
But the decider and preliminary matches against Russells Creek and Nirranda also gave coach Ben Parkinson insight into what his side could be capable of.
He was not disappointed.
The Dogs looked bigger, stronger and more clinical than their opponents, although they did have more senior players available.
“I don’t think anyone had their full side yesterday, we certainly didn’t,” Parkinson said yesterday.
“Being early February it gives us a gauge of where we’re at and what we need to work on the next five weeks leading into round one.”
The big focuses for Parkinson ahead of a first-up match against East Warrnambool are spreading from the contest and decision making.
But he was upbeat about his players’ hunger to win the football and willingness to put their bodies on the line.
Of the recruits, Dustin McCorkell and Tully Allwood were the most impressive, along with Rainey Lebler and Ryan McElgunn.
Key forward Chris Keilar stood tall and won the best-on-ground medal in the grand final while teen Sam Curtis bobbed up with two goals.
Darcy Lewis was another who caught the eye, mainly because he was running the defence — a new role Parkinson hoped he would adapt to.
“Our plan at this stage is to play Josh Lock in the ruck with a few other guys,” Parkinson said yesterday. “Chris Paton and Jackson Chatfield will get tried through there in the next couple of practice matches.
‘‘I’d like to keep Darcy down back.
“Chris Keilar will run around at full-forward but we’ve got guys who we can rotate through there.”
Merrivale, Old Collegians, Allansford, Russells Creek, East Warrnambool and Nirranda also used the pre-season cup to see new-look sides in action.
The Tigers were the other club to impress, unveiling Jet Dowie, Rhys Raymond and Matthew Peake against Allansford and North Old Boys-St Patrick’s.
But it was two existing faces, small forward James Fary and onballer Sam Gleeson, who showed the benefits of a solid pre-season.
Across at Nirranda, coach Aidan Cole was ecstatic with how the Blues went about their two matches against East Warrnambool and Dennington.
Luke Kensit, Michael Boyd and Adam Atkinson were the pick of the recruits. Jesse Dalton and brothers Rick and Jeremy Spokes also showed promise.
“We brought a few blokes in that played a lot of reserves football last year and they stood up and were able to have an influence,” Cole said.
Allansford coach Josh Parkinson insisted the Cats had emerged with positives, despite an under strength side losing to Merrivale and Old Collegians.
Goalkicking recruit Brad Williams showed glimpses of potential, although Merrivale backman Sam Green took the honours in the first match.
Rory Neeson, Ben Lenehan and Joel Cornelissen were other recruits to have a run. Sam Holloway made a welcome return from a knee injury.
“I thought Brad Williams was prominent throughout,” Parkinson said.
‘‘He’s got a terrific set of hands.
‘‘He showed he’s going to be a fairly good player for us."