PORT Saints will hope last year’s performance in the Football Mid North Coast Premier League was just a one-off event.
Saints finished bottom of the table and will have a perfect opportunity to bounce back to their 2015 premiership-winning form when they host 2016 premiers Wallis Lake on Saturday.
Coach John Goodman will have a new-look, youthful side at his disposal and admitted to feeling mixed emotions ahead of the season opener at Findlay Park.
“I’m not sure whether to be excited, nervous or anxious because it’s first versus last from last year so it doesn’t get any tougher,” he said.
While a positive result is at the forefront of Goodman’s mind, he doesn’t mind if they register a first-up loss.
“This weekend is our yardstick – we want to find out where we’re at,” he said.
Saints went from the penthouse to the basement of the Premier League in just 12 months and Goodman is looking forward to what the young side can do.
“I’m just curious to see how these young guys go against the older guys, but we’ll try to use our speed with the ball,” he said.
“What we try and do and what we can do are two different things, but I want the boys to play fast and go forward.”
Goodman said the current belief amongst the playing group is that they have a better side in 2017 than last year.
While they didn’t get the result in a pre-season trial with Kempsey Saints, Goodman was impressed with the resolve from his side.
How well they consistently do that will play a significant role in their ladder position.
“We did play a trial against Kempsey Saints who I think will be one of the teams to beat this year and we copped an early goal, but the boys didn’t drop their heads which impressed me,” Goodman said.
Players such as Anthony Jamieson, Michael Bishop, Dan Gardner and Bailey Pascoe will provide the leadership and direction for a side who has more players closer to 20 than 30.
“Jammo is one of five remaining starters from last year so hopefully he’ll show a bit of leadership; it’s him and Bish that will stop the young boys from dropping their heads if we do cop an early goal,” the coach said.
“Having such a young side can be both a good thing and a bad thing, but you know they’ll run all day.”
Goodman said the focus would be on taking the game to last year’s premiers and not letting them dictate play.
“I only saw Wallis for 30 minutes in the grand final and Camden Haven sat back because that’s the way they play, but I don’t want us to do that – we want to take the game to them,” he said.
“We just want a decent performance.”
Reserve grade kick-off is at 1.15pm while first grade kicks off at 3pm.