WOLLONGONG Lions coach Ray Burgess believes Kiama deserve to be counted as a genuine premiership threat, after an impressive start to the season.
Since moving from the Sydney AFL, the Lions and cross-town rivals Wollongong Bulldogs have dominated the South Coast landscape.
Kiama won the flag in 2013, lost the next two grand finals to the Bulldogs have since slipped off the pace.
But signs of a Power surge have come after thumping wins over Nowra-Albatross and Northern Districts prior to the Easter weekend bye.
Most impressively, Kiama have piled on 37 goals and 68 scoring shots to sit atop the ladder.
“From what I gather they’ve recruited really well,” Burgess said.
“So I think they’ve shown they’ll be a top team, but other teams are improving as well. Shellharbour were quite competitive when we played them.
“I think we’ll learn quite a bit out of playing Kiama on Saturday.”
Ricky Neels has started in fine fashion, booting 11 goals for the Power, while Lachlan Kirk kicked five in one appearance this year.
“They're good players and we’re going to have to work on how we use our match-ups,” Burgess said.
The Lions won the premiership in a one-point thriller over the Bulldogs at Nowra showground last year, before outlasting them by 15 points to start the season.
Leading by a point at three-quarter time, the Lions booted three goals to one in the final term.
“As much as it was a grand final replay, there were two very different teams out there,” Burgess said. “It was pretty tight and we managed to open the game up a bit late, but it’s only early days.”
Meanwhile, Bomaderry and Shellharbour will an early test of their finals hopes when they meet on Saturday.
- AFL SOUTH COAST
WOLLONGONG LIONS v KIAMA at North Dalton Park
BOMADERRY v SHELLHARBOUR CITY at Artie Smith Oval
FIGTREE v NORTHERN DISTRICTS at Figtree Oval
NOWRA-ALBATROSS v WOLLONGONG BULLDOGS at Tom Smith Oval