Written by Michael Shillito

Under 19s Division One Grand Final

Sydney University vs. UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs – Sunday, 8 September at 11.10am at Blacktown ISP Oval 1

There’s some top footy talent on parade on Sunday, as the Under 19s Division One Grand Final will be played out. It’s a young university derby, as Sydney Uni take on UNSW Eastern Suburbs at Blacktown on Sunday at 11:10am.

Under 19s Division One is an eight team competition with a final four.

Sydney Uni had a remarkable season, finishing as undefeated minor premiers, winning all 17 games they played and accumulating a percentage of 396.11. It’s been quite a rise for them, after failing to make the finals last year. A particularly strong crop has come through from their junior feeder clubs this season which looks to be the key to their success.

The Students followed up the strong home and away season with a comfortable 43-point win over East Coast Eagles in the Major Semi-Final to win straight through to the big game, and enjoy a week off to get over any niggles.

An undefeated season isn’t possible without the firepower to put a winning score on the board every week; and the Students have found multiple avenues to goal. Leading the way up forward has been Ben Davis, Luke Gallen and Blake Byrne, who have each kicked 24 goals this season. The Bulldog defenders will have to work hard to keep them out of the contest.

There’s no shortage of quality performers around the ground. Che Munro has been a standout, featuring in the best players 10 times this season. Nick Lees has been recorded nine times and Josef Wilks seven. The Bulldogs will need to work hard to keep them quiet.

UNSW-ES took out the Under 19s Division One title last year; and although several of their premiership stars from last year have graduated to open-age footy this season, there’s been a good inflow of young talent to take their place. The Bulldogs finished in third place, winning 11 of their 17 games during the regular season with a percentage of 200.84.

They had do go through sudden death in the finals, but this was no problem for them. A 37-point win over St George in the Minor Semi-Final was followed up by a 59-point win against East Coast in last week’s Preliminary Final.

On the forward line, the Bulldogs have been dealt a hand of Jacks. Jack Willis has spearheaded the Bulldog charge in 2019, kicking 44 goals for the season; while Jackson Tikkeros with 28 and Jack Sorenson with 25 have also made important contributions to kicking some big scores this season.

Around the ground, Oscar Peter has stood out, featuring among the Bulldogs’ best 16 times this season. Sam Kofod has appeared on the list nine times and Kyle Chandler eight. If the Bulldogs are to pull off the upset in the Grand Final, these are the players who will need to step up and take charge.

The two teams have met three times this season, with the Students getting up by a bigger margin every time. Round 2 was a thriller, with the Students falling over the line by two points at Sydney Uni No 1. In round 5 at Henson Park, the Students prevailed by 34 points and repeated the dose with a 55-point result at Sydney Uni No 1 in round 17.

The Bulldogs have hit their best form of the season at the right time, breezing through the finals. They have plenty of players who know what to do at Grand Final time. But you can’t go past the dominance of Sydney Uni in this division all season and it’s hard to see that having done so much right this year that they will let it go.

Prediction – Sydney University by 35 points.