Teenagefull forward Evan Smith will be a handful for defences after booting nine goals on debut for premiers Wollongong Bulldogs in their 73-point thrashing of Shellharbour in Saturday’s round two clash at Bomaderry.
The University-based Bulldogs have won the past three first grade premierships and despite having nine debutants showed they’ll again be a serious contender under coach and stalwart Lee Murray.
Despite having their opening round clash against Wollongong Lions washed out, the Bulldogs showed little sign of early season rust in a powerhouse 18.8 (116) to 6.7 (43) victory.
Wagga Wagga-bred Smith played for Sydney AFL and North East AFL side Sydney University last season and showed he will be a force in the South Coast comp.
‘‘I live in Wollongong and after a season at Sydney I’m really happy to be at the Bulldogs,’’ 19-year-old Smith said.
‘‘Everyone’s been great and with so many other new guys we’ve really fitted in well. I kicked nine but had three out on the full so there’s plenty to work on.’’
Under skipper-turned-coach Murray the Bulldogs have won the past three first grade flags and been in the every grand final since joining the first grade comp in 2010.
Meanwhile, Wollongong Lions played their first South Coast AFL match since 1988 and made it a memorable return with a 44-point win over last season’s grand finalists Northern Districts at Kully Bay.
The Lions busted open an tight match by kicking seven goals to one in the third term in a 15.7 (97) to 8.5 (53) victory in a match transferred from North Dalton Park due to the wet conditions.
A spiteful third quarter led to two Bulldogs and one Tigers player being sin-binned, but the Lions remained focused in the final term booting five straight goals to the Tigers 4.1, to seal an impressive win.
Top dogs: Wollongong Bulldogs showed they will be tough to defy a fourth straight South Coast AFL Seniors premiersship after a 12-goal win over a spirited Shellharbour in the first match of the season for both clubs.
‘‘It was pretty willing and what you’d expect from the Lions and Tigers after 26 seasons apart,’’ Wollongong Lions president Mick Marning said.
Wollongong midfielder Will Cook, running defender Ben Green and half forward Simon Quinn were outstanding, with the victory over a premiership contender the perfect start for new coach Craig Morrison.
The Lions joined the Sydney AFL in 1989 and now return to South Coast after last season playing in the Sydney’s second tier comp.
Finally, Nowra Blues bounced back from a first-up loss to Bomaderry with a hard-fought 19-point win over Kiama at West Street Oval.
The clash was moved from Kiama to Nowra, with the Blues booting two late goals in a 12.12 (84) to 9.11 (65) win.
Kiama under new player-coach Bryce O’Connor take on Norths at Hollymount Park on Thursday night in the rescheduled round one clash which was washed out.
There are no games on Anzac Day with round three on May 2.
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