Written by Michael Shillito

Men’s Division Two Final

UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs vs. St George Dragons – Sunday, 15 September at 1.20pm at Blacktown ISP Oval 1

A Sunday afternoon Grand Final in the Men’s Division Two competition will see UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs taking on St George Dragons at Blacktown ISP, with the first bounce at 1:20pm.

The Bulldogs were minor premiers after the home and away season, dropping just one of their 15 games and accumulating an imposing percentage of 390.60%. After getting the first week of the finals off, they defeated North Shore in the Major Semi-Final by 24 points to earn themselves another week off. They’ll be refreshed and ready to go.

In their quest to get a winning score on the board, the Bulldogs have experienced hands at the wheel. Troy Luff has been a key performer this season, landing 67 goals. While Tom Williamson, another with plenty of Premier Division experience, has scored 34. Fraser Noack is in third place, with 14 goals for the season.

Troy Luff has provided plenty of valuable leadership around the ground, and has been named in the Bulldogs’ best player list six times this season. Finbarr Warren, Lachlan Reid, Matthew Pettit, Matthais Gilanyi and Nathan Shapiro have featured five times apiece. There’s no shortage of players who have shown themselves capable of making a contribution, and the Bulldogs will be looking for players to put their hand up and take responsibility for getting the job done.

For everything Troy Luff has achieved in footy – a 10-year AFL career with the Swans, 20 years in Sydney footy, best and fairest awards, individual medals and more; the premiership has eluded him. He’s played in about 15 Grand Finals in his life and lost them all. If he is to break that streak and get that breakthrough premiership medal, he will have to stand and deliver on the day to get his team over the line.

The Dragons finished second after the regular season, with 11 wins from 15 games and a percentage of 145.51%. They opened their finals campaign going down to North Shore by 14 points in the Qualifying Final before hitting back with a 13-point win over UTS in the Minor Semi-Final. That win gave them another crack at North Shore in the Preliminary Final, and this time round they were successful by 34 points to make it through to the Grand Final.

Jason Gasovski has fuelled the Dragons’ goal-kicking, with 32 goals for the season. David Williams has chipped in with 27, while Chris MacDougal has contributed 23. This trio will need to create plenty of chances on Sunday if the Dragons are going to get the job done.

Wilson Murray and Jason Gasovski have led the way around the ground for the Dragons, appearing eight times in their list of best players. Chris MacDougal has featured seven times. They will again need to feature prominently for the Dragons in this contest.

The two clubs only had one meeting this season before the Grand Final. In round 6 at Olds Park, the Bulldogs dominated proceedings to record a 66-point victory.

The Dragons have played some good footy in the finals to make it through to this game. But it’s hard to go past the Bulldogs, who have been the benchmark in this division all season. They look to have enough quality around the ground to take this contest; and finally, after all these years, Luffy can drink from a premiership cup.

Prediction – UNSW-ES by 28 points.


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