Squeeze is on in Wimmera footy
An intriguing test of will, strength and talent is set to continue in Wimmera Football League on Saturday as one of the closest seasons in years enters another chapter.
Results so far suggest this year’s premiership flag is well and truly up for grabs, with a string of teams lining up for a crack at the pennant.
After three rounds into a season we can usually identify a clear pace-setter, but this year is different. It might be a while before teams can lay any sort of claims.
Horsham is leading the pack, but only marginally it seems, with the Demons now primed to take on what appears to be a settled Warrack Eagles line-up.
Horsham, which endured a considerable pre-season player turnover, has taken a few competition watchers, expecting the Demons to slip back in the field, by surprise.
A solid win over league newcomer Southern Mallee Giants under lights last week underlined the Demons’ ability to respond to challenges. A quick scan down the quality in the team’s senior list also tells a story.
Horsham has a lot of players with the ability to step into the breech and last week it was Brad Hartigan and John Wood, while Ryan Kemp continued his superb start to the year. Coach Deek Roberts, Rhona Conboy and Darcy Taylor were others to conspire to upset the Giants’ plans.
Horsham faces a Warrack Eagles team that amplified the uncertainty surrounding the season last week by upsetting Minyip-murtoa.
The Eagles had been hinting at getting a winning formula right and in a low-scoring affair at Minyip clinched the contest by nine points.
Talented Nick Peters makes a considerable difference to the Eagles line-up and ruckman Shannon Argall, to use a wellworn expression, doesn’t get any smaller by the end of a contest. Others to impress in the victory included Connor Inkster, Harry Trezise and Travis Lawson.
The Demons and Eagles are long-time rivals and Saturday’s clash at Warracknabeal’s Anzac Park should be a ripper.
If any club is turning heads this year it must be Ararat.
The Rats have a clean slate so far this season, bowling over Stawell, Horsham Saints and on Saturday, Dimboola and now have their biggest test for the year against Southern Mallee Giants.
The Rats travel to Beulah for the first time, fresh from a 132-point win against the Roos and with the likes of Riley Taylor, Ryan Bates and Dan and Nick Mendes in fine fettle. Lachlan Hamilton is also coming off a six-goal bag.
This week will be significantly different for the south-east force, which confronts a Giants team that has done the unthinkable and lost two in a row.
The Giants are sure to hit back hard at home. They did a Wimmera league no-no last week and gave Horsham a head-start and won’t be as kind to Ararat this week.
Goals were surprisingly hard to come by for the Giants but Josh and Ben Webster, Lou White, Reece Mcnally, Leigh Stewart and Sam White kept their team in the contest.
Other games this weekend are also generating plenty of interest.
Nhill almost snatched the points against Stawell in a comeback last week, losing by a point, and would be spending the week rebuilding for a tough match against the Burras.
Scott Hughes kicked four goals for the Tigers last week and weekly protagonist Liam Albrecht was again prominent, while Ben Jones, Jordan Zeitz, Simon Cave and Lochie Pilgrim slipped onto a best-player list.
Minyip-murtoa will be hoping last week’s result was an aberration, although Pat Purcell was good again and others such as Mitch Cronin, Brayden Ison and Nick Kelson won accolades.
Stawell would have taken a big breath after getting on the board but needs to ready itself again, this time against Horsham Saints at Horsham’s Coughlin Park. Cam Kimber, Tom Taurau, Naish Mcroberts and Jackson Dark impressed last week for the Warriors and Paul Summers kicked four goals.
The Saints had a bye last week so should be fighting fit for the contest and will view the game as an opportunity to get their first win on the board.
GOTCHA! Horsham’s in-form Ryan Kemp clamps onto Southern Mallee Giants coach Coleman Schache during a Wimmera Football League night match.