The Solomontown Cats took an extra week to book their spot in the grand final but nonetheless have got there!
Once again, they square off with their recent nemesis South Augusta Bulldogs as they go for a perfect undefeated season as well as closing out a very rare hat-trick of premierships for the Red and Whites in front of their home crowd.
The two sides will know one another intimately as this week will have South lining up against Sollies for the seventh time in their last 19 games!
For Sollies it’s the seventh time in 21 games as they have played two extra winning preliminary finals, so it will be very hard for either side to spring anything new.
Both coaches have previously tasted the ultimate success with South Coach James Boles winning 2016 and 2017 whilst the fairytale win in 2014 from fourth was a highlight for Chris Pollard after both coaches having star studded playing careers at clubs other than the ones they now coach.
It’s no surprise that Sollies and South are also the most settled sides along with third-placed Lions with South having used 31 players this year with 12 playing all or missing only one.
Sollies have used 33 whilst in comparison Lions have used 31, Port 38, Central 45 and West 42.
South are a very well-oiled machine with class oozing from all parts of the ground, they have three Madigan Medallists in big man Downey, livewire Kildea and this year standout star Aziel Stuart. They have on ball and rebound strength and pace in Warren, Russel, McKenzie, Thompson, Holland and plenty of others.
Lionel Brown has set the comp alight with a stunning 87 goals from 16 games and will take some stopping. Hamilton is strong and leads well but has only played eight games for his 33 goals and will be another that will score heavily if left alone.
Many are anticipating this to be a lay down misere for the Dogs given their dominance this season to date, but anyone that knows footy knows that may very well not be the case.
If you take out the 115 point round 12 flogging against an undermanned Cats’ side the average for the other three games is still seven goals.
Plenty will need to go right for the Cats for certain but there are a few things that must happen to push the tide back that we can look at.
Downey is the best big man in SGL footy and needs to be curbed by lion-hearted Bernhardt and/or Munzberg. This will help stop the Dogs run at the source.
The Cats onballers in Hayes, Davey, Francis, Caputo and Redman will all need big games and get their hands on the ball first to feed out to the runners.
In four games, South have scored 65 goals against Sollies this year and 20 of those have come from Brown. He is their major source of goals and stopping his five-goal average will go along way to holding them to a beatable score. This will take a team effort and defenders Caputo, Tom and Kaleb Head, Mudge and anyone that rotates back will need to be disciplined and tight.
Finally, up front Sollies will need to score and score heavily. If Bearman can get off the chain his electric speed and uncanny goal sense can inspire and lead the Cats to victory. He will need help, Nitschke (and Hoare if he plays) will need to get loose and finish well, Foster must chime in for a few but more importantly must compete to give their crumbers opportunity to score. The resting onballers and wings such as Caputo, Davey must hurt the Dogs at every chance and score at every opportunity.
The other thing that must happen is a good start. If you can fire out of the blocks, then South will have plenty to think about and possibly start second guessing themselves whilst it will help the Cats belief grow that the upset is on!
South will still go in as raging favourites and common sense will be tipping them to win by six goals. Everyone from Port Pirie though will be cheering for the upset.
Each game brings South closer to a loss and the Blue and White army will be out in force and believe it will be this weekend! Carn the Cats!
In the Seconds, Lions hung on last week and despite losing the second semi comfortably they only had three less scoring shots. South will likely lose one of their best players up to the A grade as the grand final is the only game all year you play 22 players (always wondered why?) so that will hinder their reserves. It will be close, but South will be favoured.
Central have been barnstorming through to the Thirds grand final with the return of their colts playing League. Port have been top all year and will also have players back this week so we are tipping them to hold on in a belter of a game!