Eight rounds have been completed in the 2022 Great Southern Football League competition and it is extremely hard to pinpoint a premiership favourite. To have three teams sharing identical records at this stage of the season shows that this year has been one of the closest in recent memory — and it hasn’t finished just yet. Railways, Mt Barker and Albany are separated by only percentage with seven rounds left in the regular season and Royals are two games adrift in fourth place. If the Lions win this weekend it will virtually lock away the top four teams but good luck trying to pick a flag favourite right now. The top four all hold genuine premiership claims and it makes for an exciting second half of the season, to decide what combination will be there on the last day of the season. The Tigers are the reigning premiers and have lost two games so far in 2022, both at the hands of the Bulls. Their form has been consistent aside from that and despite the departure of Leighton Smith they have the right mix to go back-to-back. Talk star Matt Palfrey was going to return to the WAFL permanently has been quashed, their lack of a genuine ruckman will be aided by Xavier Brenton-Reed returning home and they still possess the deepest midfield in the competition. Young pair Ryley Valli and Mohit Jaggi have given the Tigers some much needed outside run and the Tigers are in a strong position to challenge for another flag. The Bulls have been the story of 2022 without a doubt. They missed finals last year and had some turnover of players but few could have predicted such a big rise. They secured the best recruit of the season, and probably the best in several years, in Zach Jackson and have developed a game plan that works. The Price brothers have been terrific, Darcy Wallinger has relished his move to defence, Lee Pavlovich is playing his best footy and veteran Sam Lehmann is finishing it all off. A blemish to the Lions early on and two-point defeat against the Sharks on the road are the two marks against the Bulls name thus far but they easily could be the unbeaten team of the competition. The Sharks have been the most intriguing team and have mixed their form. They were thrashed by the Lions and Tigers early on which was concerning, but their win over the Bulls was full of merit and more recently turned the tables on the Lions in the Retravision Stadium derby. They have won their past three games and Brett Peake has really come alive, kicking 26 goals in the past three matches. A strong bodied midfield, a defence that has been well held by Kane Pinney and Cam Jones and a front half containing Peake and Matt Martin is enough to produce plenty of winning scores. We haven’t seen enough of Matt Galantino and Dane Holdman but the Sharks absolutely have the team to better their preliminary final exit from last year. The Lions lost last year’s grand final and things just haven’t gone to plan in the current campaign. Heavily hit by injury, the Lions hold a 4-4 win loss record but their best is as good as anyone. Early on they beat the high-flying Bulls and thumped the Sharks and their effort against the odds last week opposed to the Tigers should not be discounted. Personnel will play a big part in the Lions’ flag hopes but were missing five regular senior players from their team last week. Add back in Kleemann medallist Cameron Allison, captain Brayden Parker and match winner Sam Holmes and the Lions are right in the mix. Zak Mola has been outstanding for the Lions and while talls Hamish McMorran, Stephen Beal and Nick Ashford are a real handful. They can ill afford any more setbacks but their experience and culture of winning big games and finals still has them firmly in the mix. It promises to be a wonderful run home as four quality teams battle to be the ones lifting the premiership cup aloft.