AFL South Coast Grand Final Previews

Mens Division Two

Wollongong Bulldogs v Northern District Tigers

The Northern Districts Tigers have been successful in defeating the Shellharbour City Suns and making their way to this season’s grand final against the Wollongong Bulldogs.

Despite being the lower placed side in the preliminary final the Tigers rarely looked like losing as they came away with a 41 (5.11) to 18 (2.6) victory. The first quarter ended even at nine points apiece and looked to be shaping into the kind of grinding game that Shellharbour had been successful in playing all season. The second quarter saw the tigers hit their stride as they put on 22 points to the Suns eight. The second half only saw eleven points scored between the two sides as the Tigers settled in and held their lead beautifully. This composure will be critical if they are to come away with a victory over a strong Bulldogs side who have dominated for most of the competition. 

For the Bulldogs, it will be a matter of maintaining the form that they have demonstrated so far this season, especially against this Northern Districts side. In the three meetings between these two sides, the men from Wollongong have come away as victors on all three occasions.

For the Tigers this match will be about rewriting the story of their season so far. Their performance in the first week of the finals has proved that when they get going they can put points on the board almost at will and it will be critical for the Tigers to rediscover that form against a Bulldogs side who can score at a similarly prolific rate.


Womens Division One

Northern District Tigers v Wollongong Lions Red

The women’s division one will see the Wollongong Lions Red given the opportunity for redemption against the Northern Districts Tigers who were responsible for their defeat in the qualifying final.

The Lions made a statement in their victory against the Bulldogs in the preliminary final as they came away 45 (7.3) to 7 (1.1) victors after keeping the Bulldogs scoreless in three quarters. 

For the Tigers, this dominance may prove a concern as the Lions have already shown that they are capable of matching them, as they did when the sides drew in round five and when the Lions took the victory in round 14. However, the Northern Districts side will take confidence from the fact that their victory was the most recent, coming in the first week of finals. This match will still be fresh in the minds of both sides and will certainly boost the morale of the Northern Districts, however, it will also fuel the fire of the Lions who will come out with gusto from the first minute. It will be important for both sides that their forwards make the most of their attacking opportunities as past meetings between these two sides have trended towards being lower-scoring affairs.

Which way this match goes is anybody’s guess. 

This also means that the Lions have maintained success across the women’s competition with teams in the grand final in both divisions.

Mens Division One

Wollongong Bulldogs v Bomaderry Tigers

The Bomaderry Tigers will meet the Wollongong Bulldogs in the grand final of the Men’s Division One competition after defeating the Figtree Kangaroos in a close affair in the preliminary final. In their 47 (7.5) to 42 (6.6) victory, Bomaderry started strong, scoring 31 points in the first half, including five goals. After a very even third quarter Figtree came into the last quarter playing like their season was on the line, scoring 20 points, making Bomaderry work for their place in the Grand Final. 

Looking forward to the grand final Bomaderry will know the Herculean task that lays ahead of them. The Bulldogs have remained undefeated so far this season, through both the regular rounds and the finals series. Their closest game so far this year was their qualifying final against Figtree which may give Bomaderry a hint of confidence as they aim to beat a higher-placed team for the second week in a row. 

These sides only met once in the regular season in round 16 where the Bulldogs came away convincing victors 57 (7.15) to 12 (2.0). Bomaderry will have learned from this game though and will certainly have strategies to shut down the potent attacking line of the Bulldogs in the big dance. 

By contrast, the Bulldogs have been running like a well-oiled machine all season, and the key to their success will be mental, making sure that the pressure of the situation doesn’t get to them. They know they have the strength and the skills to win this contest but they still have to go out there and do it. 

Both sides will be coming into this weekend confident that they will be able to come away with the win but it will be a matter of having the right game plans in place and being able to execute. But most importantly it will be about enjoying the moment.

Womens Premier Division

Wollongong Lions v Figtree Saints

In the Women’s Premier Division the Figtree Saints have an opportunity to continue their golden run of form. They defeated Kiama in their elimination finals clash to set up their preliminary final against the Wollongong Bulldogs who finished a place ahead of them in the regular season and they channelled their best to make their way to the big dance and a meeting with the Wollongong Lions. 

In the past three meetings between the sides, the Lions have taken two victories to the one of Figtree. The Saints will certainly believe that this is the best game to even up the season tally and take their second win.

The key to success for both teams in this match will be shutting down the scoring options of their opposition, especially in the early stages of the game. In each of the three clashes between these teams the side that was leading at the end of the first quarter has ended up coming away with the victory.

It promises to be a fast and action-packed game of footy when these two sides meet. Will Figtree complete the underdog story or will the Lions show them exactly why they are the minor premiers of this division?

Mens Premier Division

Wollongong Bulldogs v Figtree Kangaroos

The Wollongong Bulldogs men came away with a convincing win over the Northern Districts Tigers in the preliminary finals, 82 (12.10) to 32 (4.8),  confirming their place in the grand final where they will be given their chance at redemption against Figtree who accounted to the Bulldogs 46 (6.10) to 30 (4.6) in their qualifying finals clash at North Dalton Park. 

This weekend will be carbon copy of the qualifying final as these sides once again meet at North Dalton Park, and Figtree will certainly hope that the score remains identical as well.

This match is certainly shaping up as one of the closest and most competitive of the weekend. Both sides have been almost inseparable throughout the season, just a look at their win/loss record and their percentages will tell you as much, and their qualifying final has set the stage for a fantastic showdown in the big dance. The Bulldogs will be full of confidence after their convincing preliminary finals victory and will want to ride the momentum that they built up all the way to the flag. Figtree by contrast will be well rested after a week off and they will be fueled by their qualifying finals victory over this same side. They will also know that the Bulldogs have struggled against them in every meeting this year. But to underestimate a side with the quality of the Bulldogs would be folly, in the furnace of finals footy anything could happen and the Bulldogs will certainly be hoping to make a statement in their final game of the season. 

The preliminary finals victory also completed the trifecta for the Bulldogs club as a whole as they have their teams in the grand final in every mens division.