So strong were the howling winds on Saturday, just one goal was kicked into it during the AFL South Coast preliminary final at Bomaderry.
Premiers Wollongong Lions managed one major in the second term, on their way to a 7.17 (59) to 3.8 (26) victory over Wollongong Bulldogs.
It sets up a blockbuster grand final showdown with Kiama, who the Lions beat in last year’s decider to claim the flag.
The Lions managed 1.8 in the opening quarter, holding the Dogs scoreless in the process.
It set the tone for an extraordinary day, where the two arch-rivals set up to try and dominate or contain depending on whether they were running with the stiff breeze.
With a nine-point lead at half-time, the Lions then dominated the third, kicking 5.9 as the Bulldogs failed to trouble the goal umpire at the other end.
“It was unbelievable, the conditions, pretty crazy,” Lions coach Ray Burgess said.
“And not just the wind, the dust got up and made it really hard for the players there for a while as well.
“But the boys were great, particularly in the third term when we had the wind behind us and could take control.”
Jake Hogarth, a key forward, was their best, with a number of crucial marks up the ground, while Owen Christie and Harrison Freund also rated among their best.
The Dogs launched a fourth quarter surge, but could only kick 2.3, as the Lions managed to snuff out any hope of late comeback.
“We knew they would come,” Burgess said.
“So we knew we had to work really hard in the last quarter and just try and hold them as much as we could.
“But the boys didn’t celebrate too much, we know it’s a job half done and there’s a huge challenge ahead of us next week.”
In the lower grades, defending reserve grade premiers Kiama moved into the grand final, to play relegated top division team Bomaderry, after beating the Bulldogs by 17 points.
Figtree beat Ulladulla by 47 points in the new third-tier competition, while Bomaderry outclassed the Bulldogs women’s team.
AFL SOUTH COAST
Grand finals at North Dalton Park
First grade: KIAMA v WOLLONGONG LIONS (3pm)
Women: WOLLONGONG LIONS v BOMADERRY (1.15pm)
Reserve grade: BOMADERRY v KIAMA (11.15am)
Third division: BOMADERRY v FIGTREE (9.15am)