Men’s Premier Division Preview
The preview of the 2019 Men’s Premier Division Grand Final!
Wollongong Lions v Figtree Kangaroos @ 5pm
What a way to round out the 2019 season. The old guard in the Wollongong Lions against the competitions up and comers, and first time First Grade Grand Finalists in Figtree Kangaroos!
From every angle this is shaping up as an epic and and if it reaches the heights of the past two years deciders there we are in for a classic.
The Lions rightly come into this match as the warm favourites after finishing the home and away season on top of the table after a 13 win, 1 loss season including three victories over the Kangaroos in this time. Outside of the last meeting (a 27 point win to the Lions in Round 14), the other two match ups have been absolute thrillers with less than a kick seperating the two sides.
Both sides are littered with stars, many of them barely out of their teens and many local juniors which is so exciting for the future of South Coast football. And both sides look really well balanced across all lines.
One of the keys for the match will be the ruck battle between the Lions Rohan Watson and the Kangaroos Cam Daly and who can give first use to their midfield.
It goes without saying that the midfield battle will be pivotal in the result of the match but it is a must win for the Kangaroos. If the Lions win this battle, they have a plethora of options in the forward line which will cause all sorts of headaches for Figtree. There are three big targets there in Sam Wilson, Jake Hogarth and Ramez Dagher, and then there is competition leading goal kicker Toby Bishop and the x-factor of Kuiam Anu! Talk about options!
And for those reasons alone, Jacob Hennessy and Nicholas Stacey and the Roo’s on-ball brigade must gain the ascendancy early. You can however guarantee that the deep Lions midfield won’t be giving an inch. Led by Ben Green, the Cook brothers and Jack Nugent, plus the injection of Joel Preston’s youth off the half forward flank to name just a few, make this battle mouth watering!
And while we’ve talked up the Lions forward line, the Kangaroo’s have plenty of strong marking targets themselves. Callum McFadden needs no introduction and has been in white hot form in the finals to date with 13 goals across two games. His influence in last weeks Preliminary Final was significant and will be looking to replicate that again. Alongside McFadden, Figtree boast Kieran Churchill, Nick Hey and Daniel Perger while Ben Yakimov can play at either end of the ground. Those five names alone have contributed over 100 goals between them proving they have more than one avenue to goal.
Grand Finals are always a different ball game to the home and away season with the stakes so much higher and pressure increased and time with the footy decreased, so taking chances when provided will be vital for both sides.
And then we look at the rocks of each team, the ever dependable defenders, for which both sides boast depth. Rising Star runner up Adam Schuback who is only 17 and has returned from a year in Sydney along with Team of the Year member Hamish McDonald will be important for the Kangaroos in repelling the star studded Lions forward line. For the Lions, the ever dependable 2019 Team of the Year member in David Nolen along with the under rated Andrew Hearne will be hoping to see little football in their area.
Coaches Ray Burgess and Will Ryan know each other, and each others teams extremely well so it will be interesting to see what tactical moves are made during the match to gain ascendancy.
All in all it shapes up as a cracking Grand Final so get down to North Dalton Park!
B: L. Herne (33), D. Nolen (6), C. Panagakos (15)
HB: B. Hyndes (1), K. Anu (23), L. Konza (25)
C: C. Cook (4), J. Nugent (17), S. Forrest (18)
HF: J. Burgess (13), J. Hogarth (49), J. Preston (61)
F: T. Bishop (47), S. Wilson (45), R. Dagher (53)
R: R. Watson (32), B. Green (11), W. Cook (2)
Int: O. Christie (3), E. Franklin (29), H. Freund (8), J. Price (30)
In: B. Green, J. Hogarth
Out: J. Tier, J. Mettam
B: H. MacDonald (26), A. Schuback (27), B. Tuohey (7)
HB: S. Mawbey (23), T. Crawley (31), B. Yakimov (85)
C: S. Quinn (10), B. Ryan (14), J. Stacey (8)
HF: M. Daly (12), K. Churchill (19), R. Gordon (15)
F: S. Faulks (51), C. McFadden (17), N. Hay (55)
R: C. Daly (21), N. Stacey (4), J. Hennessy (6)
Int: D. Constable (53), D. Johnson (28), J. Matesic (18), D. Perger (37)
Round 3 – Lions 5.6-36 d Kangaroos 4.10-34
Round 9 – Lions 11.10-76 d Kangaroos 11.7-73
Round 14 – Lions 8.12-60 d Kangaroos 4.9-33
The Key Match Ups
Rohan Watson v Cameron Daly
The competitions top two ruckmen (both Team of the Year members) go head to head in a mouthwatering battle and whoever wins this dual will go a long way to determining the outcome of this match. If Daly can ‘share the points’ (or even win this battle) it could prove pivotal.
Callum McFadden v whichever opponent he has depending where he is on the ground!
McFadden can play anywhere on the ground and while we expect he will likely play mostly forward, could just as easily pop up in the middle or defence as needed during the game. Likely to have numerous opponents match up on him across the match and each of those opponents will need to use all of their skill and determination to try and nullify this game winner.
Players to Watch
Rohan Watson – Competitions premier ruckmen and inspirational leader who will look to give his midfield first use of the football. In the Brody Grundy mould, more than just a tap ruckmen who gets around the ground extremely well and has skills to match.
Toby Bishop – Has probably slipped under the guard of most teams this year thanks to the star studded Lions forward line but finished the season as the competitions leading goal kicker. Has played his role in the team exceptionally all season and just goes about his business with little fuss.
Sam Wilson – returned to AFL South Coast this year and has had an immediate impact. The key target deep in attack (although Ramez Dagher a handy support) who the Lions will look to find.
Ben Green – Missed most of last season but has returned in fine style for the Lions this year and is the engine room of the Lions midfield. Tough as they come!
Callum McFadden – no surprises here. Best credentialed player in the comp (ex NEAFL) who can literally play anywhere on the ground. Played majority of the finals up forward with 13 goals in two games. Big game player the Lions will play very close attention to.
Jacob Hennessy – the 2019 Tunbridge Medallist and Club captain. Huge workrate and leads by example and will get plenty of football through the middle of the ground.
Nicholas Stacey – arguably the most under rated player in the comp, the Lions need to ensure they don’t focus on the Kangaroo’s other players too much as Stacey could get off the chain in the middle.
Ben Yakimov – a huge mid-season transfer coup for the Roo’s who can also play most positions on the ground. Big bodied, strong footballer who has higher level experience.
South Coast Seagulls Tip
Based on the two early season clashes, anything less than a tight result would be a surprise, and on that note, we are calling a draw! And into an extra time thriller! It’s difficult to split these two but the Lions big game experience may just be enough to get them over the line. Lions by 2 points