Kiama Power's emotional victory on home turf

TAKING CHARGE: Kiama co-captain and gun player Ben Williams in possession against Northern Districts at Bonaira Oval on Saturday. Picture: Anna Warr
TAKING CHARGE: Kiama co-captain and gun player Ben Williams in possession against Northern Districts at Bonaira Oval on Saturday. Picture: Anna Warr

Kiama produced an emotional victory, as Wollongong Lions maintained the established order in Saturday's AFL South Coast round.

The first time they'd returned to Bonaira Oval since the sudden passing of club great and life member Darren Williams, the Power marched to a 16.20 (116) to 8.4 (52) victory over Northern Districts.

The teams held a minute's silence in Williams' honour before the game, with sons Ben, Michael and Tom lining up for Kiama in the game, before Josh Walton kicked four goals to spearhead the win.

The Power claimed the premiership last year by beating Wollongong Lions.

The Lions though, have kept the new title threats at bay in the opening rounds, winning a thriller against Figtree at Hollymount Park on Saturday, after beating the Bulldogs in round one.

With former Sydney University player Callum McFadden and talented forward Kieran Churchill boosting their stocks this year, Figtree are looming as the big challengers to the flag this year after the recent dominance of the Power and Lions.

And they looked like making a statement with four second quarter goals to take a 20-point lead.

But in a dramatic finish, the Lions fought back to win 5.6 (36) to 4.10 (34).

It means are the Lions are now officially the only unbeaten team, after their round-two clash with Kiama was postponed.

In women's premier division, Kiama continued to set the pace with a 45-point win over Northern Districts, while the Lions outclassed the Saints by 108 and the Bulldogs beat Shellharbour by 55 points.

A full-strength Power squad left Northern Districts goalless at their home ground on Saturday.

Kelsey Wishart and Brianna Dalgleish were among Kiama's best on ground, scoring two goals each.

One of Kiama's major threats, Bomaderry, had a bye, and a number of their players turned out to Bonaira Oval to watch the match.

The club retained most of its players from its debut year and recruited well in the off-season, registering 37 women's players, including under 17s, for 2019. Coach Glenn Haworth said the squad's depth was a result of club culture. The women's squad trains with the men and are treated as equals.

"In their first year, it was good to see support coming from the boys to bring them into the club," he said.

"It brings a new level of pride to our club. We want to be about hard, fast footy, respect for each other and for other clubs."

The nature of the sport has attracted women from other codes - soccer, hockey and netball - to the club.

"There's not much difference between women's and men's AFL, there's nothing softer about it, it's just as hard, just as much tackling, the same rules," Haworth said. "They don't want special treatment."

This Saturday, Kiama's squads will rest with the bye.

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