AFL South Coast Preliminary Finals Match Previews
Mens Division Two
West Street Oval
Shellharbour City Suns v Northern District Tigers
The Men’s Division Two competition had two of the most notable finals results across their two matches. In the major semi-final the Wollongong Bulldogs breezed past the Shellharbour City Suns 95 (14.12) to 14 (2.2) on their way to the grand final. Meanwhile, in the minor semi-final, Northern Districts turned up and took no prisoners on their way to a 136 (20.16) to nil demolition job over the Bomaderry Tigers. This sets up an intriguing battle in the preliminary final as Shellharbour look to find a way to put points on the board against a team who seems to be able to score at will.
History is not in favour of this Shellharbour side as they have met Northern Districts only once this season in round seven when the Northern Districts came away comfortable victors 89 (13.11) to 11 (1.5). This again highlights the need for Shellharbour to find a way to more consistently put points on the scoreboard which is something they have struggled with, particularly in the latter half of the season. By contrast, Northern Districts will be coming into this game with their tails up and full of confidence after their semi-finals performance. The key for them will be to maintain the energy that they found last week and carry it on against a Shellharbour side that finished second in the competition for a reason and can’t be expected to roll over under the weight of the Northern Districts offence.
Womens Division One
West Street Oval
Wollongong Lions Red v Wollongong Bulldogs
It was a weekend of drama in the Women’s Division One competition as the first placed Wollongong Lion’s Red capitulated to a strong Northern Districts side in the major semi-final. The game finished 29 (4.5) to 18 (2.6) with the Lion’s accuracy in front of the posts impacting heavily on their chances in the match. Northern Districts have now booked themselves a one-way ticket to the grand final, whilst the Lions will have to go through the Wollongong Bulldogs to have their chance at revenge.
The Bulldogs will come into this preliminary final on the back of a comprehensive victory over the Wollongong Lions Black side. Coming away victors 17 (2.5) to 1 (0.1) their ability to restrict point scoring will be essential against the Lions red who have proved themselves capable of producing consistently high totals which could cause issues for the Bulldogs side.
So far this season these sides have met on only one occasion with the Lions completing a comprehensive 62 (9.8) to 23 (3.5.) victory in round 11. The Bulldogs will be hoping that the game was a one-off whilst the Lions will be hoping for a repeat performance on their way to redemption against the Northern Districts.
Men’s Division One
Figtree Kangaroos v Bomaderry Tigers
The opening finals of the Men’s Division One competition provided no end of entertainment for fans at North Dalton Park and at Nowra Showgrounds as the Wollongong Bulldogs secured their spot in the big dance and Port Kembla played their last game of the season. This leaves Figtree and Bomaderry to battle it out for the chance to play off against the Bulldogs for the title.
Based on their performances last week Bomaderry will come into this game with a huge confidence booster having comfortably dispatched Port Kembla 47 (5.17) to 12 (2.0). Their main concern moving forward looks to be their accuracy in front of goals, converting on their opportunities will be key against this Figtree side.
Figtree’s finals performance last week differed greatly from Bomaderry’s as they fought until the end in a 38 (5.8) to 23 (3.5) loss to the Bulldogs who have been competition heavyweights all season. After leading the first quarter 8-2 Figtree fell under the weight of a strong counterattacking Bulldogs side who took the second quarter 19-7 and never looked back. Key to the success of the Kangaroos in this redemption match will be their ability to maintain pressure over Bomaderry and not concede their lead.
This match will provide a much more even battle than either of the two first-round finals as these two teams have been almost inseparable in results and performances across the regular season. Percentages of 253.42 and 250.44 respectively and season results of 8 wins and two losses suggest that this will be one of the most even matches to be played this season. The only differentiation between the two sides is an additional game that was played by Bomaderry which resulted in a draw against Port Kembla.
These two teams met twice during the regular season and have each come away with a win. Bomaderry with a comfortable 94 (15.4) to 52 (8.4) victory in round two and Figtree with a similarly comfortable win 63 (9.9) to 27 (4.3) in round 10. In both of these games the team who led in the first quarter has run away with the game so we can expect both teams to jump out of the blocks when they meet at the Nowra Showgrounds this weekend.
Womens Premier Division
Wollongong Bulldogs v Figtree Saints
The Women’s Premier Division preliminary final clash is shaping up to be a mouth-watering affair between two sides at the top of their game. Figtree will come into this game on the back of a strong performance against the Kiama Power which saw them come away as 48 (7.6) to 1(0.1) victors, whilst the Bulldogs capitulated to the Lions 34 (5.4) to 15 (2.3). As a result, Figtree will come into this match full of confidence, whilst the Bulldogs will feel like they still have work to do.
These two sides have only met once in the regular season where the Bulldogs emerged victorious 58 (8.10) to 6 (1.0) in round 8 eight. Figtree have only lost one match since that point and will be hoping that this run of form will continue into their preliminary final. The Bulldogs have had a similarly strong run of form having only lost to the Lions since the round-eight clash. This mirrors the strength of these two teams so far this season, as well as the difficulty there has been to split them. Both teams finished the regular season with five wins and three losses from their eight games with percentage the only difference between the sides. The Bulldog,s superior 198.35 was enough to catapult them into second place and give them another chance in the finals series. The Saint’s slightly lesser 176.80 unfortunately, saw them finish in third place without the safety net of the major semi-final, but both teams are now on an equal playing field and are looking forward to meeting the Lions in the grand final.
Men’s Premier Division
Wollongong Bulldogs v Northern District Tigers
An intense first round of finals in the Men’s Premier Division has seen the Figtree Kangaroos make their way to the grand final, courtesy of a 46 (6.10) to 30 (4.6) win over the Wollongong Bulldogs at North Dalton Park. It was an explosive, 33-point second quarter featuring five goals for Figtree that paved the way for their victory and left the Bulldogs the task of defeating the Northern Districts for their chance at redemption.
The Northern Districts side played a similarly paced match against the Kiama power, coming away victors 47 (7.5) to 22 (3.4) over the third-placed Kiama side. This match saw Northern Districts take the game away after winning the first quarter 19 to 9 and putting on a further 19 points in the third quarter to destroy any hope of a Kiama comeback.
Getting out to an early lead will be essential against the Bulldogs who have a tendency to finish strongly, having had their best quarter at the end of the game against Figtree, coming away with 13 points to 3 in the fourth quarter.
This preliminary finals match looks to be a match of David and Goliath based on the regular season results so far this year. Wollongong finished the season with a percentage of 239.85, ten wins and only a single loss which was to the first placed Figtree Kangaroos. By contrast, the Northern Districts side scraped into fourth place on account of their 87.28 percentage which was higher than that of Shellharbour, and a record of three wins and eight losses.
Past meetings between the two sides paint a grim picture for the Northern Districts as the Bulldogs have come away with the competition points on all three occasions. Northern Districts will be looking to change this trend this weekend but this high-flying Bulldogs side will be looking to take the win for their chance at revenge against Figtree in the grand final.