Coach: Ash Connick (new)
Last year: 3rd - 14-7
Arrivals: Chris Down, Jake Condon, Will Holt, Robert Kirby, Marc Millard, Jeremy Rodi, Vincent Rodi, Tom Calvert, Lachlan Tardrew.
Departures: Zeb Broadbent, Jon Coghlan, Tim Martin, Pascale Craig, Mitch Dole, Daniel Connors, Zac East, Codie Price, Brodie Montague, Seb Greene, Galen Munari, Marc Lindsay.
Player points: 38
Last flag: 2016
R1: v Kangaroo Flat (a)
R2: v Strathfieldsaye (h)
R3: v South Bendigo (h)
R4: v Maryborough (h)
Past five years:
2018: 3rd - 14-7
2017: 4th - 12-7-1
2016: 1st - 18-2
2015: 2nd - 16-6
2014: 2nd - 18-4
Last season's MVP top 5:
Zeb Broadbent - 57
Andrew Collins - 55
Jake Pallpratt - 51
Lee Coghlan - 36
Codie Price - 28
Last season's top 5 goalkickers:
Andrew Collins - 52
Daniel Connors - 33
Taylor Strachan - 25
Zeb Broadbent - 21
Nick Stagg - 20
Q and A with coach Ashley Connick
The Dragons have a long list of departures from their senior squad. How is your depth going into the season?
"We've regularly had 40-45 players at training plus nine kids in the Pioneers squad and the club has had strong reserves sides for a long time.
"We've got some new guys coming in and we expect to see some improvement from guys that were on the fringes last year. Some of the young players at the club will get there chance to step and grab a senior berth as well.
"We think we'll have a squad that can be really competitive with anyone and we certainly hope to play finals for sure."
It's your first year of coaching in the BFNL, what are your expectations?
"You can have ambitions of where you want to finish, but sinly we want to be as well prepared as we can be and win as many games as we can.
"With the naturual movement around the league it looks like Eaglehawk has strengthened a little bit and Gisborne has recruited well to significantly upgrade its list.
"Strathfieldsaye will be around the mark like they always are and Golden Square looks to have improved. Even sides outside the of the five like Kangaroo Flat look like they'll be much better.
"Where we sit in the mix, we'll wait and see. We have high expectations and our first aim is to make a good start and then reevaluate. We think we have a finals list an where that is in the top five we'll wait and see. That's the exciting thing."
One of the great quandaries at Sandhurst in recent years has been which end of the ground is Matt Thornton best suited? Will we see him at centre half-forward or centre half-back this year?
"I've had a good chat with Matt and we'd like to settle him in one or the other. Ultimately, I'd be in favour of him playing forward.
"It's great to have that versatility, but at this stage I think we'll get him in our forward six.
"My nature is if you have the choice between a gun centre half-forward and a gun centre half-back you take the centre half-forward."
Sandhurst is one of the hardest clubs to get a handle on.
A plethora of senior talent left the club in the off-season and then came the bad news about star midfielder Lee Coghlan's season-ending knee injury.
On the flipside the Dragons added a quality ruckman in Chris Down, an exciting young key forward in Will Holt, athletic wingman Robert Kirby and several talented players from district league clubs that will fill roles.
You know what you're going to get from the likes of Andrew Collins, Blair Holmes, Matt Thornton, Joel Wharton, Nick Stagg and reigning best and fairest Jake Pallpratt.
There's still enough talent on the list for the Dragons to make finals, but is there enough for them to improve on last year and genuinely challenge for the flag?
The answer to that question will come from those who were at the club last year.
Can the extremely talented Lachy Ross have a career-best year and become a match-winner inside forward 50?
After an injury interrupted first season at the club, can Zac Pallpratt move into the midfield full-time and give the Dragons some extra grunt?
Will the promising Isaac Ruff and Jed Zimmer take another step forward in their development?
Will a couple of the Dragons' long list of talented players under the age of 19 step up and make a mark at senior level?
By the time we hit the end of August, if the answer to the majority of those questions is yes, then the Dragons will be once again there when the whips are cracking.
Related: Catch up on the BFNL club previews
Coach: Tamara Gilchrist and Heather Oliver (third year as joint coaches)
Last year: Premier
Arrivals: Brianna Dalrymple-Monro.
Departures: Brooke Bolton, Kelsey Meade.
Coaching panel: Tamara Gilchrist and Heather Oliver (A-grade); Tamara Gilchrist (A-reserve); Erica Dalrymple-Monro (B-grade); Rose Gallagher and Paul McConnachie (17-and-under).
Last five years: Premiers (2018); premiers (2017); third (2016); fourth (2015); fifth (2014).
Q and A with co-coach Heather Oliver
A few key outs in Kelsey Meade and Brooke Bolton, but with Brianna Dalrymple-Monro back at the club and plenty of young depth, you look well placed for a premiership defence?
"We've got Ruby Turner and Kelsey Ralphs back playing and we have a couple of 17-and-under girls from last year who have come up to the A squad, Matisse Perez and Emmie Banfield, so that just adds a bit more depth to our groups. It's just awesome seeing these girls in under-17s and then coming up to play in the seniors. No doubt those girls will play a massive role in what we are trying to achieve this year. Having Bri Dalrymple-Monro back at the club is awesome. I'm sure she will be more than capable of filling Brooke's shoes."
Three flags in a row is always an amazing achievement. You must be confident going into the season it is very achievable?
"It would certainly be nice, but like last year and the year before, while it's the main goal, we don't go in even thinking the premiership is going to be ours. We know this is going to be the hardest year for us because we have every team coming for us and every team has improved immensely. We have a slightly new group and you never know how the dynamics might change, but we just need to keep working hard. It will probably be hard for Tam and I to teach these girls something new again this year, so it's going to be a challenge for all of us, but the girls will no doubt be up for it."
Yourself, you missed the last part of the season. When do you expect to be back on court?
"I've just started running and doing some extra strength and conditioning work - hopefully I'll be back round one. It's not something I want to rush. We'll just see how I go over the next couple of weeks."
REIGNING premier Sandhurst is again eager and ready for whatever the rest of the competition throws at it as they attempt to claim a third straight flag.
The Dragons had no worries in handling the expectations of being defending champions in 2018 and actually revelled in the challenge.
We should expect this year's title defence to follow in a similar vein, even despite the loss of two of their stars.
The Dragons will be minus goal attack Kelsey Meade (pregnancy) and centre Brooke Bolton (work commitments) from the line-up which won back-to-back premiership deciders in 2017-18.
Whereas those losses would hurt a weaker team, the Dragons are loaded with depth following back-to-back premiership wins in A-grade, 17-and-under and B-grade and consecutive top three finishes in A-reserve.
The Dragons have fared brilliantly in the recruiting stakes, welcoming back star centre Brianna Dalrymple-Monro to the club, following a year off last season and a stint at Strathfieldfsaye, which yielded a grand final appearance in 2015 and a Betty Thompson Medal win in 2016.
If that wasn't enough to strike fear in their rivals, the Dragons regain dual Betty Thompson medallist and one of the league's most versatile players in Heather Oliver.
The co-coach was sidelined in the latter half of the season, but will slot back into a team overflowing with talent, led by dual grand final best-on-court medal winner Meg Williams, brilliant goal shooter Bec Smith (fourth in last season's league best and fairest, and the quality defensive trio of Carly Van Den Heuvel, Imogen Sexton and Sophie Shoebridge.
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