Spencer Gulf Football League 2018 Grand Final preview

NO LOVE LOST: Solomontown captain Lindsay Bearman and South Augusta's star midfielder Aziel Stuart get stuck into each other during the qualifying final.

NO LOVE LOST: Solomontown captain Lindsay Bearman and South Augusta's star midfielder Aziel Stuart get stuck into each other during the qualifying final.

Central Oval – 2:40pm, Saturday, September 1 

For the second year in a row, South Augusta will meet Solomontown in the SGL Grand Final.

The Bulldogs come in as overwhelming favourites having gone through the season undefeated, but as everyone knows, anything can happen in the biggest game of the season.

South have had the better of Sollies this year, winning by an average of 60.5 points in their four meetings, including a 115-point thumping in Round 12.

The last time these two played each other was two weeks ago in the qualifying final, where Sollies challenged the Bulldogs and had periods where they were in control, before South ran away with a 40-point win.

The midfield battle will be one worth keeping an eye on, as both teams have excellent on-ballers.

South’s mix of Darcy Kildea, Clayton Milera and Madigan Medallist Aziel Stuart have plenty of speed and class that has propelled them from defence to attack all year.

Meanwhile, Sollies’ midfield of Corey Davey, Jono Hayes and Nick Redman is very efficient with ball in hand.

The ruck battle is always important, and Cats’ combination of Riley Bernhardt and Mason Munzberg has to contend with Matt Downey.

Since being recruited by South, Downey has become renowned for his ability to ruck out entire games.

He has had another dominant season, with games where he hardly lost a tap.

If Sollies are going to have a chance at winning the decider, they’ll have to find a way to contend with Downey and restrict his influence on the game.

Another player the Cats have to focus on is the league’s leading goal kicker, Lionel Brown. He has kicked 87 goals this season and has the ability to take the game away from his opposition in a 15-minute period.

Previously, it has been Marco Caputo who has taken on the role of nullifying Brown, but the star forward has still managed to kick 20 goals in the four match-ups against Sollies.

If Sollies can get on top of Brown, South will have to find other avenues to kicking a winning score, but they do have the options with the likes of Gary Warren and Kahran McKenzie.

These key match-ups will go a long way in deciding which team comes out on top.

Bulldogs have far too many dominant players for Sollies to handle, which is why I believe South will take out their third consecutive premiership.

Previous Meetings:

Semi Final: South 13.9 (87) def. Sollies 7.5 (47)

Round 12: Sollies 4.7 (31) def. by South 21.20 (146)

Round 7: South 17.14 (116) def. Sollies 11.10 (76)

Round 2: Sollies 5.9 (39) def. by South 12.14 (86)

Seconds

12:30pm – South v Lions

South’s seconds were almost as dominant as their league side, finishing the season with 14 wins and one defeat.

The Bulldogs hold a 3-1 record against Lions this season and will be aiming to rectify their disappointing 2017 Grand Final loss. 

Under 18s 

10:30am – Port v Central

Reigning premiers Central will be hoping for the same outcome when they come up against Port in a rematch of last season’s decider.

Port have cruised through the season undefeated, but come up against the in-form Bloods, who crushed both South and Sollies in finals.

Under 15s

9am – Central v West 

Not much separated these two sides throughout the season, with West pipping Central to the minor premiership on percentage.

Central defeated West by 15 points in the semi, but the Hawks bounced back with a comprehensive prelim win over South.