Figtree coach Will Ryan admits he’s still a bit unsure what to expect from the Bulldogs in Saturday’s eliminator at Hollymount Park.
The Roos and Dogs have known for some weeks they were on a finals collision course, but their rivals have had a rollercoaster ride.
The University of Wollongong connection has always meant the Dogs have a high player turnover, but coach Lee Murray has acknowledged this year has been more challenging than ever, working around exam and holiday periods.
Ryan said the Dogs’ unpredictability will prove a challenge.
“They’re probably the hardest team in the league to prepare for,” he said.
“They have a lot of personnel changes week to week, let alone year to year, with uni schedules and players coming in and out.
“So you can play with match-ups a little bit, but there’s only so much you can be sure about.
“The one thing you do know, they’re going to be competitive and Lee Murray is a coach who will get the most out of them.”
The Roos lost to the Bulldogs by five points and nine points this year, before breaking through with a 17-point victory at Keira Oval in July.
It’s their only success against a top four team all year, after going down by 34 points against premiers Wollongong Lions last weekend.
The Lions will meet Kiama at North Dalton Park for a place in the grand final.
Ryan said Figtree needed to work harder around the stoppages and back their skills to control the midfield contest.
“(The Lions loss) was just another reminder we need to compete for four quarters,” he said, after the Lions booted five in the second to take control.
“We went with them pretty well for three quarters and they beat us in one.
”We’ve just got to be hard at the footy, get first use and back ourselves to get it clear and hit some targets.”
While the Roos are desperate to keep their season alive, Kiama and the Lions renew their rivalry chasing a direct path to the premiership decider.
Last year Kiama won the major semi-final by four points, before the Lions dominated the last quarter of the grand final to claim the flag. The Power claimed their second consecutive minor premiership, sealing it with a six-point win over the Lions in Kiama last month.
AFL SOUTH COAST
KIAMA v WOLLONGONG LIONS at North Dalton Park (2.30pm)
WOLLONGONG BULLDOGS v FIGTREE at Hollymount Park (2.10pm)