AHEAD of Sunday’s Group Seven first grade grand final between Shellharbour and Kiama, sports editor Courtney Ward chatted with the seven opposition coaches, and one captain, to get their predictions on who will lift the Artie Smith Trophy in 2018.
Jamberoo Superoos – Jono Dallas
“There are some players in both teams who have put a lot of time into their clubs over the last few years, so whoever wins, there will be some guys who deserve it – so it really doesn't bother me who gets up.
“Having experienced the pathway Shellharbour have taken to get there, I know how good it is to go in from first.
“Having two weeks to mentally prepare for a grand final is really valuable if you manage it the right way.
“Kiama will still have bad memories from losing last year that will motivate them and I am sure they'll be up for the challenge.
“If I had to pick one on form, as long as Shellharbour turn up, they've been the best team all year for a reason.”
Warilla-Lake South Gorillas – Aaron Henry
“I think Shellharbour will win by 10 points – they’re a well drilled side and strong right across the park.”
Gerringong Lions – Nathan Ford (captain)
“Shellharbour will win it 32-10.
“Their forwards will get them on the front foot and allow their halves to create opportunities on the edges around the Knights halves.
“The Sharks kicking game will also make hard for the the Knights to start any sets in strong field position.”
Albion Park-Oak Flats – Gary Breakspear
“Shellharbour’s halves have been outstanding all year and I think they will lead them to a 16-point win on Sunday, with Matt Carroll being named man of the match.”
Nowra-Bomaderry Jets – Dylan Farrell
“Both sides have been strong competitors all year.
“Kiama have plenty of strike power and a real mate ship about their side – I’m a big fan of their lock Toby Nobes and Kieran Poole is an awesome leader.
“In saying that, I’m leaning towards Shellharbour in this one.
“The Sharks just have too many damaging players, including two quality halves, that create so many options for their side – final score will be 24-12.”
Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies – Luke Ryder
“I think with the experience that Shellharbour has upfront and in it's halves, as well as the fresh legs they have on their bench, I think it will see them eventually run over Kiama by 10 points.”
Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs – Brenden Fernley
“I’m with the Shellharbour Sharks all the way.
“Our last game up there was a tough day for us, with little support from our own club.
“We were massively under strength and also suffered some more serious injuries on the day.
“The club, its players and their coach Abed Atallah were nothing but class supporting myself and my playing group more than our own club.
“Abed even rang me later that night to check on one off my players results.
“I rate him highly and told him then that I would be in his corner all the way.
“I also believe they have a great all round balance within their group, not to mention their halves.
“Matt Carroll’s maturity, game management, kicking and competitiveness, I think will be the difference – Shellharbour 25-12.”
Stingrays of Shellharbour – Wayne Clarges
“I think Kiama will just get home in a close game.
“They would have learnt a valuable lesson a couple of weeks ago in their semi-final loss to Shellharbour.
“I think they will play to their strengths, which is their speed and quickness and get the win by a narrow margin of two or four points.”