GRAND FINAL PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Under-19s Division Two
Written by Michael Shillito
Southern Power vs. UNSW Eastern Suburbs – Sunday, September 16 at 9.00am at Blacktown International Sportspark
The last day of the AFL Sydney season will be on Sunday. First up on the cards is the Under-19s Division Two, which sees Southern Power taking on UNSW Eastern Suburbs.
It’s been a season dominated by Southern Power. Runaway Minor Premiers, only dropping one game during the regular season and having a comfortable win over Wests Goannas in the Semi-Finals. Having only played one game in the last month, they’ll be refreshed and ready for action.
Southern Power as a club have already tasted success this season with Platinum Reserves taking out the Premiership last week. An Under-19s Premiership would see a flow of talent coming through the ranks that will set them up as a force in Platinum Division for years to come.
Much of their premiership hopes rest on the boot of Hunter Gregory, who already has 46 goals to his name this season. Sam Scandurra also has plenty of ability up forward, and they’ll be a hard combination to stop.
Around the ground, Darcy Thompson and Chris Davidson have been ball magnets all season, and they’ll be relishing the chance to make an impact in the biggest game of their careers to date.
The Bulldogs have had their struggles during the season, but made it to fourth place after the regular season. They have had to go through three sudden-death finals to make it to the Grand Final, and two of them went down to the wire. Had Wests Goannas kicked straight in the Prelim Final, the Bulldogs may not have made it – but here they are.
With their Under-19s Division One team taking out the Premiership last week, it’s clear there’s some outstanding young talent at the Bulldogs, and this has flowed through to the Division Two squad, who have already seen their stablemates take out their prize.
In Brendan McMorrow, they have a target on the forward line capable of kicking a winning score. Look out in the backline for Blair Ryan, who has stopped plenty of opposition movements in their tracks. If the likes of Ethan Hart, Augustus Alexakis and Thomas Ingram get plenty of the ball, the Bulldogs will be well set to take the fight up to their highly-fancied opponents.
The two sides have met twice this season, and the Power were comfortable winners both times. In Round 2 at the Village Green they got it done by 26 points, and repeated the dose with a convincing 69-point win at Waratah Oval in Round 12.
There’s always the risk of a team going off the boil when they have only played one game in the last three weeks, while the Bulldogs have the confidence and momentum that a winning streak through the finals generates. But on balance, over the course of the season, the Power have been the dominant force in this division and it would be a stunning upset if they weren’t able to get the job done in the game that matters most.
Prediction – Southern Power by 33 points.