Improved Chiltern Swans to face ultimate test

Chiltern’s Mark Doolan and Barnawartha’s Josh Spence will be battling it out for the Laracy Shield. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

Chiltern’s Mark Doolan and Barnawartha’s Josh Spence will be battling it out for the Laracy Shield. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

CHILTERN coach Kirk Wilson believes the Swans are “streaks ahead of last year” but is eager to find out whether they are good enough to challenge last year’s power clubs.

While the signs looked promising a fortnight ago when they defeated Thurgoona, Wilson said the ultimate test awaited against reigning premier Barnawartha at Barnawartha on Saturday.

“They have had a fantastic start to the season,” he said.

“We are really looking forward to it though as it will show us where we are at.

“We set ourselves to win two of first four, which we have done already and I think we will be right in the contest on Saturday if we can keep up our defensive pressure, which is massively important for us.

“If our form can stay where it is now I think we can match it against any team in the competition — but Barnawartha is a fantastic side.”

Chiltern, who finished seventh last season, is one of the teams most likely to sneak into the top five if Thurgoona or Dederang-Mount Beauty slip up.

While the arrival of Wodonga Raiders star Mark Doolan has been well-documented, the Swans have welcomed the return of Rod Shannon and picked up a topliner in Sam Turner from Melbourne.

The continued improvement of youngsters Caleb and Ethan Boxall, Chris Anderson and Ash Van Klaveren has also given the club’ supporters plenty to be excited about.

“The young blokes have 20 games under their belts now and they are super talented kids,” he said.

“This year we will worry a lot of sides and we might give it a shake this year but over the next few years I think we will be a real team to watch.

“We have our standouts like any team, but everyone has done their job and that’s been the secret for us.

“Barnawartha is fast and I think they won last year on a hard running game.

“They tend to catch sides out on the overlap by kicking over the top and breaking the second line down.”

Barnawartha and Chiltern will be playing for the Laracy Shield, named in honour of Simon Laracy, who died in a workplace accident in 2009.

The Laracy family has strong ties at both clubs.

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