REIGNING Spencer Gulf Football League (SGL) champions South Augusta are just one win away from defending their crown.
Standing in their way is Port Pirie’s Solomontown, who had a remarkable season, suffering just one loss throughout the minor rounds.
However that loss came against the Bulldogs and James Boles’ side repeated that effort in the first weekend of finals action, scoring a shock 48-point win over the Cats to move straight into the Grand Final.
Coach Boles said he won’t be making many changes to his team or his tactics for the decider.
“We don’t really have to change anything because we’ve implemented a few things in training and worked on things,” he said.
“We’ve got more skill and pace than any other side, but sometimes our discipline and ability to man up can go out the window.
“We’ve just got to man up and put pressure on the ball carrier.”
The Bulldogs started their season slowly, suffering three losses in their opening six matches, before finding the consistency to win nine of the remaining 11 fixtures.
With seven of their 2016 premiership players moving on, Madigan Medallist Darcy Kildea, along with Matthew Downey, Brendon Colson, Clayton Milera, Craig Shirley and youngster Harry Holland all stepped their games up a notch.
South co-captain Adam Grantham – who hopes to return from injury to feature in the final – said that spirit and confidence raised once the team’s best 22 started to take shape.
“I think we were just getting prepared to try and do it all over again,” Grantham said.
“We began ticking over week after week and we really targeted getting in the top two because we thought that was our best chance of getting into the final.”
As the South players prepare to do battle on the big stage once again, co-captain Caleb Ritter said the vibe has been positive in the lead-up.
“We just want to stick to our normal things during the week and not think about it all too much until Saturday to keep the nerves down,” Ritter said.
South Augusta’s Seconds will play in the curtain raiser, also facing off against Sollies, highlighting the club’s deep list of talent. Boles said it is always good to have depth.
“All the players that have come up have performed admirably for us at different stages throughout the season,” he said.
Grantham echoed Boles’ praise for the Seconds players and hopes to see premiership glory in both grades.
“Out of the six teams, we were third in amount of players used, which normally when you’re up the top you don’t use that many because you’ve got that consistency,” he said.
“It shows that the B Grade players are stepping up and there are a handful of guys there that could easily be playing A Grade this weekend. It’s a good problem to have."
The Bulldogs will be looking to become back-to-back SGL champions for the first time since 1993-94.