SWFL finals week two: Grand final spot on the line

Donnybrook will be hoping the week off will give it the advantage over Bunbury this weekend. Photo: Thomas Munday.
Donnybrook will be hoping the week off will give it the advantage over Bunbury this weekend. Photo: Thomas Munday.

By the end of this weekend we will know one of the 2018 South West Football League grand finallists, with Donnybrook and Bunbury playing for a spot in the decider.

On the other hand, one team will have its premiership aspirations cut short, with Eaton and August Margaret River battling to keep their season alive.

Check out our preview of this week’s games and let us know who you think will win.

Brett Peake has been in stunning form for Bunbury, with 32 goals in his last six games. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Brett Peake has been in stunning form for Bunbury, with 32 goals in his last six games. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Second semi-final: Donnybrook vs Bunbury

Donnybrook will host Bunbury at VC Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon with the first grand final place on the line.

The Dons finished the season on top of the ladder and as a result had last weekend off. It’s not clear whether the extra week of rest will prove to be a help or a hindrance however.

On one hand, Donnybrook would have had the time to rest up after suffering a few injuries in the back half of the year, but recently history has shown form may be more important when it comes to finals with the team finishing on top of the ladder losing the semi final in each of the past three years.

The Dons will have a challenge containing the Bunbury forward line, but their defenders have shown they are up to the challenge throughout the year. Donnybrook conceded just 55 points a game over the season – almost a goal less than any other team – and conceded 10 goals in a game on just four occasions.

But they will have their hands full with Bunbury, who have won their last eight games and kicked at least ten goals in each of those games.

The key for the Bulldogs has been the forward depth, with three players – Brett Peake, Matt Martin and Dylan Heasman – recorded double figure goal tallies over the last eight weeks.

But equally important will be the battle in the midfield, with the teams boasting arguably the two strongest midfields in the competition.

It’s likely that which ever team is able to take control of the clearance game will give their forwards the opportunity to kick a winning score.

It’s a hard one to pick with both teams claiming a win over one another during the season, but Bunbury’s recent form and the comfortable win they claimed over the Dons just a month ago would have to give the Bulldogs confidence of qualifying for their second straight grand final. 

Prediction: Bunbury by 10 points.

Hawks defender Lincoln Adams will have his hands full with containing the Eaton forward line this week. Photo: Ashley Bolt.

Hawks defender Lincoln Adams will have his hands full with containing the Eaton forward line this week. Photo: Ashley Bolt.

First semi-final: Eaton Boomers vs Augusta Margaret River

Arguably the more interesting game of the weekend is the first semi final between Eaton and Augusta Margaret River at Glen Huon Reserve on Sunday.

The Hawks capped off a strong late season charge towards finals with a thrilling one point win over South Bunbury, which should give them the confidence to be a genuine threat for the premiership.

But if they want to go all the way, they’ll have to address their tendency to start games slowly. Despite their strong results in the second half of the season, they almost always had to come from behind as they’ve lost the first quarter in eight of their past 10 games.

It hasn’t seemed to hurt them too much however, as the Hawks have managed to improve their output to an average of 82.5 points a game over the last six weeks.

It is the defensive side of the game that sometimes leaves the Hawks vulnerable. Although improving their defense vastly in the back half of the season, the Hawks’ defenders play an attacking style and aren’t always too concerned with shutting down the opponents’ forwards.

That would be a risk this week with Eaton being the league’s highest scoring team. The Boomers also finished the season with seven players kicking more than 10 goals, the most of any team.

Two of those players were important forwards Heath Ryder, who has kicked seven goals in the last two weeks, and Brandon Jetta, who kicked bags of four in both games against the Hawks.

The key for the Boomers will be to put 10 goals on the board, with Eaton yet to lose a game when its reached that mark but failing to win eight of the 10 games it didn’t.  

It should be a close game, but Augusta Margaret River’s recent form should give it the confidence to pull out another tight win this week.

Prediction: Augusta Margaret River by three points.

Catch up of the first week of the 2018 South West Football League finals: