We’ve finally got our first look at some fresh faces, new coaches at the helm and new season of footy, so here are 10 things we learnt from the first round of the South West Football League. LEAGUE 1. No trouble in paradise Intrigue surrounded the ability of South Bunbury’s midfield to come together as one unit. Would three big personalities with experience leading a midfield group by themselves be willing to do the two-way running and be content with not always being the main man? The answer was a resounding yes. Jesse Crichton, Jace Cormack and new club captain Kevin Chitty all attended about 70 per cent of centre bounces, and Fraser Millar and Kade Wallrodt were the main contributors from the second unit. Last year’s best and fairest Shaun Crane started on a wing and rolled through the midfield late, as did returning player Hayden Krikke, who started forward and kicked a goal. As part of the new unit, Crichton has transformed himself into a workhorse defensive midfielder, and could finish the year as the Tigers’ most important player. “I don’t think Jesse is going to be a 30-plus kind of player anymore, I think he is going to just bring quality and steady the midfield,” Tigers coach Julian Burgess said. 2. Eaton is a serious side Injuries and misfortune have riddled Darren Rigby’s time in charge of the Eaton Boomers so far, but with two of the league’s best off-season recruits. South Fremantle premiership hero Jacob Dragovich was straight into the side and straight into their best in Saturday’s 15.13 (103) to 8.6 (54) win over Harvey. Former Bull Brandon Jetta, Herman Humphries and former Fremantle Docker Joel Houghton combined for 10 goals between them in a forward line that could fast become one of the competition’s best. “Eaton were really good . . . they would have beaten us regardless (of COVID outs), and they will be a side to watch out for this year,” Bulls coach Mark Pink admitted in the aftermath of their loss. Dragovich in midfield feels like the finishing touches on a young on-ball group and will be the perfect man to work in tandem with Jordan Falco, who is moving towards his prime years. 3. Busselton aren’t done yet It was a fresh-looking Busselton side that took the field against Augusta-Margaret River on Saturday afternoon, but after two years of near-misses, the Magpies aren’t done yet. Daniel Delaney is a fresh face at the helm, one that is passionate about the club and experienced with working with enthusiastic youngsters and the leaders which took them to consecutive grand finals are still at his team’s core. Former skipper Jackson Arbon and new standalone leader Ethan Bowman were both among their side’s best in the upset win over the reigning premiers. Mitch Tenardi is still leading the way in midfield. Liam Creighton was goalless in round one, but if he finds the form he finished last season with, they will have a top 20 player across every line. We will learn more again when they meet new benchmark South Bunbury at home on Saturday night, but for now, write them off at your peril. 4. Bunbury’s forward line is deadly Not that they had any trouble finding avenue to goal on their way to yet another finals appearance last year, but the return of Mark Longbottom and a steady season under Patrick Farrant’s belt could easily make Bunbury’s forward-line the competition’s best. The Dogs haven’t yet seen the best of Longbottom, with the former East Perth forward spending almost all of last season injured, but his bag of three against Carey Park on Sunday could be a sign of good things to come. The 27-year-old was billed as the replacement for premiership duo Jordan Adamson-Holmes and Samuel Davies. Remarkably, they had seven players kick multiple goals, with Longbottom leading the group, but Farrant’s marking ability and willingness to work up the ground also a huge asset. Jett Rigby kicked two, as did returning gun Cam Lamonaca, premiership midfielders Jethro Barraclough and Dylan Heasman and ruckman Tyson Wood. Wood’s ability up forward can’t be underestimated either, with his stunning purple patch inside 50 during their qualifying final loss to AMR, almost dragging his side over the line. 5. It’s going to be a long year for Eagles fans They were a clean bill of health away from playing finals last year, but Collie have been stripped of some of their stars for good, after a hellish off-season which will force them to rebuild. Gun brothers Mat and Talan Michael, Joel Houghton, Joe Scafidi, Teke Vernon, David Cowan and Kaleb Michalak — all in the club’s best 15 players last season — are gone, and new coach, 23-year-old Kade East says it is time for them to “write our own script”. They will do that, but Eagles fans need to give the club, East and new captain Paul Rinder time to make it happen. A round one defeat to Donnybrook was our first look at exactly what that means, and it wasn’t pretty. WOMEN - By Justin Fris 1. South Bunbury’s key position players again showed why they are a step ahead. South Bunbury might have had things their own way on the scoreboard against Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault last Saturday afternoon, however, there was more to the result than meets the eye. With skipper Bethany Bond, Amber Boyd, Kate Fielding and Maddy Obal all within the team’s leadership group in 2022, the Tigers easily possess the most experienced key position “spine” in the competition. Aside from their experience, all four players are capable of playing anywhere on the ground and adapting their respective games to the state of play. This luxury is something not afforded to many other clubs, as it has been developed over the past five seasons. 2. Kandice Hart remains one of the best captains in our region. A lot of people may view a win/loss record in terms of success, however, leadership and development are equally important — particularly for a team who is steadily improving. Irrespective of how her side is faring on the scoreboard, Panthers skipper Kandice Hart always gives 100 per cent. Aside from hurling her body into each contest, Hart offers positive feedback to her teammates at a stoppage and encourages them to take the game on. Despite their opening round loss, there was a lot to like about Carey Park’s spirit, which could bode well for some wins in the not too distant future. 3. Several new players made instant impressions for their respective sides. While some results in the opening round might have seemed similar, a number of new players throughout the competition stood up to be counted. Leading the charge on Saturday afternoon at Glen Huon Reserve for the Harvey Bulls was Jenna Bloom, who was extremely lively around the half-forward line. Another star in the making could be Bunbury’s Kimberley Nimmo, who looked sensational playing one out of the goalsquare against the Panthers. The Eaton Boomers also showcased two of their new high-prized recruits — Tahlia Dawson-Gibbs and Kiarni Stevens — who will be of great benefit to their side this year. 4. The Bulls’ ball movement will cause problems to rival clubs. Aside from a few passages of play, the Harvey Bulls were far too slick for the Eaton Boomers last Saturday, with their superior ball movement setting them up from the opening bounce. With the likes of Rebecca Fry causing mayhem in the corridor, the Boomers defenders struggled under the weight of repeat forward entries from the visitors. Fry, Rachel Shepherd and Samantha Logan picked up possessions at will during the victory, with their decision making sound at all times. Should coach Peter Jones elect to add Rachel Tilbrook and Jenna Bloom into the midfield rotation, the Bulls could be very dangerous this season. 5. Bunbury’s Shana-Lee Beardman is one of the competition’s toughest footballers. Beardman, who spent a few seasons with Peel Thunder before the establishment of the WAFLW, played her first game for Bunbury last Sunday against Carey Park. Aside from being reliable in defence, Beardman showed the football community she is one of the toughest players throughout the competition, after copping a heavy but fair bump and running off as though no contact had been made. There was no shoving, no verbal retort, just a professional running to the next contest and helping her side clear the football — a real positive example for her younger teammates to follow.