After unfurling the flag in the clubs rooms, the Wollongong Lions essentially picked up where they left off from the grand final.
The Lions kicked four goals in the last quarter of 2017, while restricting Kiama to a single point to claim the premiership.
And while there were plenty of changes in personnel when the two South Coast powerhouses renewed the rivalry on Saturday, the Lions delivered a first-term blitz.
They held the Power scoreless in the first term, before marching to a 15.10 (100) to 4.6 (30) win at North Dalton Park.
“We used the footy really well,” Lions coach Ray Burgess said. “We’d spoken during the week about this game having nothing to do with last season and focusing on what we want to do. But you always expect that first 10 minutes or so to be really intense and thankfully we started well.”
James Adamson showed he’s up to the challenge of replacing goalkicking ace Alex Cotter.
In a best-on-ground performance, Adamson booted five majors and had a hand in a couple of others. Owen Christie, who helped keep Kiama’s star midfielder Jack Mahony quiet in stages, and Dave Nolen were also impressive, as the Power struggled without a couple of key players.
“James is really keen to lock down that spot up forward and he’s doing the right things so far,” Burgess said.
“He’s played up the ground and done some ruck work for us before, but he wants to be in the goal square.”
Wollongong Bulldogs maintained their unbeaten start to the year, but only after an extraordinary last quarter comeback to beat Figtree.
The Kangaroos established a three-goal lead in the opening term at Keira Oval, but kicking 3.5 to one goal in the final term, the Dogs won a thriller 9.14 (56) to 7.9 (51).
It’s been a lean run in recent times for Northern Districts, but they enjoyed a thumping 16.14 (110) to 4.2 (26) victory over Port Kembla.
Port had produced an encouraging first-up victory over Nowra, but were overpowered by the Tigers seven-goal second term. Daniel Forsyth kicked eight for Northern Districts.
In the women’s competition, the Lions dominated their clash with Kiama, winning by 67 points, as Jessica Kiekebosch-Fitt booted five goals.
Bomaderry beat Dapto City by 44 points and the Wollongong Saints outlasted the Bulldogs to win their first game in the AFL South Coast competition.
In the AFL Sydney women’s division one league, reigning premiers the Saints started the season in style, beating Pennant Hills 6.5 (41) to 0.2 (2).