Op­por­tu­nity beck­ons for Rams

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Hdfnl Finals - BY GRANT KUCHEL

The Cin­derella story of this year’s Horsham District com­pe­ti­tion is the ap­pear­ance of the blue and yel­low at the busi­ness end of the sea­son.

After many a year oc­cu­py­ing the lower rungs of the lad­der, the Na­timuk United side has be­come a com­pet­i­tive hard-edged unit un­der first-year coach Sam An­son.

The club that turned heads in adopt­ing for­mer Wim­mera league club Horsham United in a merger agree­ment a few years ago, might well have turned a crit­i­cal cor­ner.

Early-sea­son nar­row losses to Jeparit-rain­bow, La­harum, Kal­kee and Swifts could have de­railed Na­timuk’s sea­son but it in­stead pro­vided the Rams with a steely re­solve. With four solid and gal­vanis­ing wins lead­ing into the fi­nals, the Rams ar­rive with the knowl­edge they can take it up to the sides in the first weeks of the fi­nals. Na­timuk United lacks that big star player we can of­ten as­so­ciate with fi­nals teams, but is ex­tremely even in tal­ent right across the ground.

The Rams base their game on mov­ing the ball quickly into mer­cu­rial key for­ward Nathan Koenig and of­ten un­sung tal­ent An­drew Wat­son.

Big Bryce Hate­ley gives the side ag­gres­sion around the ball while the Rids­dale broth­ers Alex and Wil, An­son and Cal­lum Cameron are all good users of the football com­ing through the mid­dle of the ground.

Young­ster Jor­dan Smith shows plenty of prom­ise in the ruck, and while his height will trou­ble op­po­si­tion sides, he might strug­gle to phys­i­cally match stronger-bod­ied ruck­man around the ground and will have to be clever in com­pen­sat­ing.

Down in the de­fen­sive half the Rams will rely on la­conic vet­eran util­ity Jono Lovel to lead the way.

Lovel has been in great form in re­cent weeks and he will have the huge task of lead­ing an in­ex­pe­ri­enced de­fen­sive unit.

There are big ques­tions sur­round­ing the Rams.

Will they be over­awed by the oc­ca­sion and will they be able to ad­just to the quicker pace of fi­nals football?

After such a long ab­sence from fi­nals football they have to pick up the pace quickly, oth­er­wise the cam­paign will be over be­fore it starts.

Jor­dan Smith

Ash Pekin

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