SOUTH Augusta have become back-to-back premiers after claiming the 2017 SGL premiership with a 22-point win over Solomontown in the Grand Final.
After an even first quarter, South took advantage of the wind in the second to put themselves in a good position at half time. Sollies mounted a comeback in the third but South ran away with the flag in the final term.
Both sides had given us reasons to believe they should be favourites heading into the game. South had a dominant win over the Cats in the first week of finals, while Sollies had only lost once in the minor round.
Jono Hayes was the talking point at selection when he was named in the Cats’ side after missing the preliminary final through injury.
It was a great move for Sollies, as Hayes was a big contributor in keeping his side in the game with a fantastic third quarter.
Unlikely first goal kicker Zac Siemer got the game under way by putting Sollies on the board, while South failed to capitalise on their opportunities near goal.
Both sides were having a red-hot crack but there was little scoring. Two goals to one saw Sollies take a five-point lead into the first change.
Kicking with the heavy breeze in the second quarter, South presented a big challenge for the minor premiers as they kicked away to a 31-point lead.
The Bulldogs were beginning to break the game open as Clayton Milera, Brendon Colson and Josh Ackland all found plenty of space inside 50 and then put goals on the board.
Ackland, in particular, was running a muck and continued to find the ball in a performance that would see him named the best player on the ground.
Sollies were on the ropes heading into the second half, but were not going to give the premiership away easily.
They turned the game on its head in the third quarter and South struggled to find a way to halt their momentum.
Five unanswered goals put Sollies in front before a last-minute goal to Brendon Colson gave South the lead heading into the last quarter for the season.
It was anyone’s game at three quarter time, with both sides needing someone to stand up in the big moment.
South were kicking with the wind that had proven to be an influential factor, but Sollies had most of the possession in the opening minutes.
The Port Pirie side bombarded the South defence, but letting a Bulldog rest on the goal line cost the Cats two goal opportunities.
After the defence held strong, South transferred the ball down into attack and into the hands of Vince Urbancic. He went back and slotted the goal to crush the hearts of Sollies.
Josef Caputo tried to provide some resistance with a goal in reply, but that was the last bit of joy for Sollies, as South ran away with a win after kicking the last four goals.
It was an entertaining Grand Final and one that both sides will remember. South will see it as their second premiership in a row and Sollies will see it as the one that got away.