Bulldogs and Gorillas battle for supremacy

Bulldogs' Jayden Millard. Photo: TONI CONLON
Bulldogs' Jayden Millard. Photo: TONI CONLON

MINOR premiers Milton-Ulladulla are just one victory away from claiming the Group 7 under 18s crown but standing in their way are Warilla-Lake South.

The Bulldogs edged out the Gorillas two weeks ago 22-18 at Kevin Walsh Oval but coach Peter Lefley knows his side must go to another level to ensure victory on Sunday.

“Last game, although we won, we were our own worse enemy at times,” Lefley said.

“We had 23 turnovers, which equates to a lot more tackles that we shouldn’t have to make, if we were more controlled with our play.

“Unless we are prepared to look after the footy and get in the grind, we are going to be in trouble.

“Once we get in the grind, it’s key that we stay in there and not let our opponents back in the contest – an aspect or our game that we need to change.”

Lefley’s troops have again enjoyed two weeks of preparation for a match-up with Warilla – which he believes will show on Sunday.

“We haven’t gone as hard as we did prior to the last match, with a couple of boys nursing niggles,” Lefley, who is in his first year back in coaching in five years, said.

“But the break has allowed them to fully recover and allowed us to sharpen up those aspects that weren’t up to scratch last game.

“It’s been an exciting two weeks and all the boys are now keen to get up there and do the best they can for the club.

“In the game itself, we know that Warilla have a really tough pack and skilful backs but the key is and has always been, in my opinion, concentrating on our own game.”

The under 18s are just one of the Milton-Ulladulla teams in their respective grand finals, along with David Hatch’s women’s league tag side – a statistic that shows the Bulldogs club is headed in the right direction.

“This playing group, when they’re on, are as good as any side I’ve coached – so hopefully they can prove that on Sunday,” Lefley said.

“In all my coaching, I’ve never had the pleasure of winning a premiership, so from a personal point of view and for the boys and club as a whole, I’d be over the moon if we won.

“Obviously first and reserve grade have had some tough times recently but the success of both our team and the women’s team show that the club is headed in the right direction again.”

Despite losing three times to the Bulldogs already this season, Gorillas skipper Blair Grant, who played in Warilla-Lake South’s first grade grand final side in 2016, knows his team have what it takes to claim the trophy on Sunday.

“All three occasions we’ve played the Bulldogs have been close games and I think it's just going to come down to putting two halves of our best footy together,” Grant said.

“To ensure we do that, our talk needs to be constant throughout the whole game – the key will be to limit the penalties we give away, as it's been our biggest downfall all year.

“If we can limit them and play to our strengths, which are playing simple footy up the middle and rolling off the back of our forward pack which allows the halves play their natural game, I know we can win on Sunday.”

Kick-off is at 11.30am at Collegians Sporting Complex.