Wollongong Lions stand in way of Kiama Power’s rise to the top

THE minor premiership is on offer as a reward for whoever emerges victorious on Saturday. 

In front: Wollongong Lions' Daniel Leary marks against the Bulldogs last Saturday. Picture: Robert Peet

In front: Wollongong Lions' Daniel Leary marks against the Bulldogs last Saturday. Picture: Robert Peet

Premiers Wollongong Lions host ladder leaders and resurgent flag challengers Kiama on the last day before finals begin.

But could it also be a curse?

In recent seasons, AFL South Coast has seen those having weekends of in finals come up short when it matters, when the Lions and Wollongong Bulldogs have met.

 Victory for Kiama would mean they’d have two weeks off in the next five, if they took the shortest route to grand final day. 

“Yeah, it’s a really difficult one,” Power coach Rod Richards said. 

“Obviously you want to go into a big game like this and win, then we can worry about what might happen next. 

“But there’ll obviously be a bit to think about during finals, especially for whoever has the week off next week.”

In round 10, Kiama announced themselves as genuine premiership contenders, when they overpowered the Lions by 12 points.

The Power surged to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and had held the Lions to just one goal to half-time. Richards is expecting the Lions to be preparing a fierce response at North Dalton Park, though knows his counterpart Ray Burgess will also be mindful of managing the premiers to peak in finals.

“I obviously know Ray pretty well through inter-league coaching and I don’t want to second guess what he will do,” Richards said. 

“But I do expect some push back from them, that’s what good teams do.

“They might have a few sore bodies as well, but with the chance of having next week off, I don’t think either team will be holding too much back.”

There will also be an intriguing goalkicking duel between the league’s No.1 Alex Cotter – who has 84 majors for the season for the Lions – and No.2 Troy Cole, who has kicked 62 for Kiama.

Figtree are also in a position to focus on their finals bid, after securing fifth place by beating Bomaderry last Saturday. 

The Kangaroos face third-placed Wollongong Bulldogs on Saturday at Keira Oval, but are destined for a cut-throat elimination showdown with Shellharbour next week.

  • AFL SOUTH COAST

Saturday 

Round 18

Final round

WOLLONGONG LIONS v KIAMA

North Dalton Park (2.10pm)

WOLLONGONG BULLDOGS v FIGTREE

Keira Oval (2.10pm)

SHELLHARBOUR v BOMADERRY

Jock Brown Oval (2.30pm)

NOWRA-ALBATROSS v NORTHERN DISTRICTS 

West Street Oval (3pm)

Ladder: KIAMA 16-1 (309.47), LIONS 16-1 (279.35), BULLDOGS 11-6 (173.28), SHELLHARBOUR 10-6-1 (144.44), FIGTREE 7-9-1 (96.61), Bomaderry 6-11 (62.12), Northern Districts 1-16 (30.43), Nowra-Albatross 0-17 (26.49).