Lower Division Grand Final Previews
Photo: Dave Johnson – Northern Districts celebrate the final siren in last weeks Preliminary Final
It’s Grand Final week and we will preview all five of the games on Saturday starting with the lower divisions (Men’s Divisions One and Two and Women’s Division One).
Men’s and Women’s Premier Division will be posted on Friday.
Men’s Division One Preview
Wollongong Bulldogs v Nowra Albatross Vikings@ 12:50pm
The Men’s Division One competition has essentially been one way traffic with the Bulldogs sitting undefeated on top of the table after the home and away season before progressing straight through to the Grand Final with a twenty point win over Saturdays opponents the Vikings two weeks ago.
Based on this, the Bulldogs enter the match as close to the strongest of favourites across the day however this result is far from a forgone conclusion. The Vikings are on a high after making their first Grand Final since the joining of the Nowra and Albatross Football Clubs a few years ago and really took it up to the Dogs in the second Semi.
In that match, the Vikings actually led at both the quarter and half time breaks before the Bulldogs clicked into gear to kick five second half goals to seal the 20 point victory.
The key for the Vikings will be containing the Dogs strong forward line led by the competition leading goal kicker in James Morsanuto. Morsanuto kicked 55 goals across the home and away season (including 12 across the three games against the Vikings) and has only been held goalless once this season. It is however far from a one man forward line with Keegan Jenkins and Peter Anstice extremely dangerous in front of the sticks also while the likes of Liam James and Hunter Smith key contributors further up the field.
Despite an 0 and 4 record against the Bulldogs this year, the Vikings will enter this game with plenty of confidence on the back of seven wins in a row against the other teams in the competition (only losses since the halfway mark of the season have been to the Bulldogs). The Vikings started the season slowly and were 3 wins, 4 losses after their first seven games but have roared back into contention in the second half of the season.
And they do boast the divisions best player in Marco Basaglia, the 2019 Tom Smith Medallist! Basaglia will look to leaders in Luke Stevenson, Jakob Ellings and Caleb Sutton for support around the ground while up forward the Vikings do have numerous avenues to goal between Brad Barnes and Adam Weller in particular.
Despite the poor record this year against the Dogs, the Vikings know this means nothing on Grand Final Day and while they may come in as the underdogs know their best is certainly good enough. Their strong win last weekend over the highly fancied Figtree Kangaroos will give them plenty of confidence of causing a big boil over.
Round 3 – Bulldogs 16.9-105 d Vikings 4.4-28
Round 9 – Bulldogs 11.15-81 d Vikings 2.2-14
Round 14 – Bulldogs 12.9-81 d Vikings 1.4-10
2nd Semi – Bulldogs 8.6-54 d Vikings 5.4-34
Keegan Jenkins – Wollongong Bulldogs
Jenkins has been a star of the top division in recent years kicking 76 goals across 2017 and 2018 so the drop back to this division should see him shine. If the Bulldogs win the midfield battle then Jenkins could be in for a big haul.
Marco Basaglia – Nowra Albatross Vikings
No surprises here. The 2019 Tom Smith Medallist is a star who leads by example and will be the key to the Vikings chances of causing a boil over.
South Coast Seagulls Tip
It’s hard to see the Bulldogs getting rolled with the class they have all around the ground and while the Vikings will no doubt put up a great fight, the Dogs quality should show through.
Bulldogs by 23 points
Men’s Division Two Preview
Ulladulla Dockers v Northern Districts Tigers @ 10:55am
2019 see’s the second year of a Men’s 3rd Division Grand Final and this year it is the seasons top 2 in Ulladulla and Northern Districts doing battle.
The Dockers enter the match as warm favourites having finished top of the table and only dropping the single game in 2019 (to the Wollongong Bulldogs) and do have the advantage of being the Club’s First Grade (and only Men’s) side. That said, the Tigers finished the season in second position and have really pushed Ulladulla in their two most recent meetings. The two sides are very different with the Tigers boasting more experience and bigger bodies while the Dockers advantage is their speed and youth which makes for an intriguing battle.
Its been an exciting season for the Tigers Reserves who had hardly won a game in recent years but have bounced back in a big way this year to play in their first Grand Final in many years. They will be up and about following their thrilling 1 point victory last week over the Bulldogs at Hollymount and will have no doubt that their best is good enough to raise the Premiership Cup. Matthew Kennedy and Ben Paulson have both enjoyed great seasons for the Tigers and will need to help the men from Woonona win the midfield battle while the Forsyth brothers impact will be important. Michael Foran has had an impressive season in front of the sticks and will he hoping for quick footy into his forward 50.
The Dockers are looking for their first silverware since 2013 and will be confident about claiming this after an impressive season to date. 2019 League Best and Fairest Matthew Thompson will look to get first use for the Dockers in the middle alongside Harrison Donohue and Tyler McCabe while competition leading goal kicker Adam Clough will be hoping for another bag of goals to end the season.
Round 4 – Dockers 13.11-89 d Tigers 7.1-43
Round 11 – Washout
Round 16 – Dockers 4.7-31 d Tigers 3.5-23
2nd Semi – Dockers 6.9-45 d Tigers 2.5-17
Harrison Donohue – Ulladulla Dockers
It has been an injury interrupted season for this budding young star however fortunately for the Dockers he has returned for the business end of the season and will be pivotal to Saturdays result. Speed and good ball use, if he gets 30+ possessions across the day it spells danger for the Tigers.
Anthony Trimboli – Northern Districts Tigers
A cult hero within the club who many of the younger players will look to for inspiration and he will thrive off this. Every chance to take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead his troops to a famous victory.
South Coast Seagulls Tip
A see sawing battle all day that could go either way but the class of a few Dockers individuals to get them over the line. Dockers by 3 points.
Women’s Division One Preview
Ulladulla Dockers v Dapto City Unicorns @ 9:15am
For the first time in the leagues history there is a Women’s second division premiership up for grabs and Ulladulla and Dapto City do battle in the first game of the day at North Dalton Park.
If the Wollongong Bulldogs Men’s Division One team aren’t the days strongest of favourites, then surely its the Dockers Women’s team who are. An undefeated season (although they did forfeit one game late in the season), including three victories over the Unicorns, gives them deserved favouritism. The Unicorns however are coming off a thrilling extra time victory last week and will be buoyed by their performance in the 2nd Semi against Saturdays opposition when they were just 5 points behind at halftime.
In that match though the Dockers put their foot down in the ‘Premiership quarter’ kicking four goals to break the game open and will be hoping to do similar in the big dance. The Dockers boast some exceptional young talent in their line up in Mel Staunton, Mia Clough and Kristelle Westbrook who will be hard to shutdown on the day but also bodes well for the Club for many years to come.
Jayda Elliot was the hero last week and since joining the club midway through the season has been one of the Unicorns most consistent performers. As has Dee-Anne Boorman who will be one that her teammates look to during the match to take charge.
Round 1 – Dockers 6.4-40 d Unicorns 3.11-29
Round 13 – Dockers 4.7-31 d Unicorns 1.4-10
2nd Semi – Dockers 7.8-50 d Unicorns 1.5-11
Luxmi Selvakumaran – Ulladulla Dockers
The divisions best ruck who has been influential all season by giving her midfielders first use of the footy will look to do exactly that and set up a Dockers win
Nicola Smythe – Dapto City Unicorns
An AFL South Coast rep player (and only goal kicker), the Unicorns will be looking for plenty of run and carry from Nicola to propel her side into attack.
South Coast Seagulls Tip
Hard not to see the Dockers claiming the inaugural Women’s Division One Cup. Dockers by 16 points.
Entry to the ground $5 for adults, free for pensioners and children under 18 (with a portion of the funds raised going directly to Heart Research Australia in honour of League and Kiama legend Darren Williams).