Opportunity beckons for Rams
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.