Dis­trict team primed for chal­lenge

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Hor­sham Dis­trict foot­ball will take cen­tre stage at Bal­larat City Oval on Satur­day as league rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tempt to build on suc­cess from last year.

The Green and Gold takes on Ellinbank and Dis­trict in an in­ter­league clash on neu­tral ground half­way be­tween the leagues and needs to win to con­tinue claw­ing its way up state rank­ings.

Hor­sham Dis­trict sat 28th in AFL Vic­to­ria Com­mu­nity Cham­pi­onship stand­ings af­ter in­ter­league games last year, de­spite a crush­ing 90-point win over Co­lac and Dis­trict.

The re­sult more than blew away mem­o­ries of a 2016 dis­as­ter against Mary­bor­ough-castle­maine, but the reputation-re­build­ing job is far from done.

Hor­sham Dis­trict coach Nick Pekin said his col­lec­tive team was look­ing for­ward to the clash and to con­tinue work­ing on an up­ward rank­ing trend.

“The team is look­ing very promis­ing. We have the squad that wants to be there and is com­mit­ted to the cause,” he said.

“I said all along that I wanted as much player buy-in as pos­si­ble and I think we have that.

“I’ve told the boys that we need to be climb­ing back up the ranks and start get­ting the league reputation back to where it be­longs.

“The play­ers will get a lot out of this ex­pe­ri­ence.

“In­ter­league, apart from step­ping up to play a bet­ter stan­dard of footy, is great for de­vel­op­ing broad re­la­tion­ships and im­prov­ing gen­er­ally.

“It’s about at­ti­tude and Scott Carey from Swifts is a case in point. He has a bro­ken hand and can’t play, but in­stead is now our run­ner.”

Pekin said he was keen for his team to play a fast and at­tack­ing style of foot­ball and cap­i­talise on a depth of mid­field run­ners.

“We’ll be ro­tat­ing the mids flat-out – I be­lieve we have the play­ers to do that – and we want to win,” he said.

“Im­por­tantly, the guys who want to be there are there, which means they will have a red-hot go.

“They have put their hands up, done the work and now want to prove them­selves.”

Strong sup­port

Pekin, who will have sig­nif­i­cant on­field lead­er­ship du­ties, has a po­tent brains trust on the bench be­hind him with dec­o­rated club lead­ers Gareth Hose in charge of de­fence, Guy Smith the mid­field and Tim Inkster the for­ward line.

A pos­si­ble team ap­pears well bal­anced with a broad cross-sec­tion of play­ers from across the league.

Swifts’ power-packed goal-kick­ing group is well rep­re­sented with Da­mon Folkes and An­drew Cameron in the teeth of goals with Eden­hope-ap­s­ley’s Damian Mon­aghan.

There is also plenty of venom across half for­ward with Har­row-bal­moral’s An­thony Close hold­ing the key cen­tre-half-for­ward po­si­tion and flanked by Kal­kee gun Si­mon Hobbs and mer­cu­rial Na­timuk United sharp­shooter Nathan Koenig.

In de­fence, Matthew But­ler from Eden­hope-ap­s­ley and Swifts’ Liam Scott have key-po­si­tion du­ties.

Dustin Cross, Liam Jakobi and Tay­lor Mil­ner will pro­vide crit­i­cal sup­port along­side An­gus Martin.

There is plenty of ac­tion ex­pected through the mid­dle, where ev­ery­one from Pekin, Ben Tay­lor, Ja­cob Cocks, Sam Mc­clure, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley, and Ryan Folkes will be primed for a tagteam with the likes of Cam Bruce, Alex Rids­dale, Bail­lie Batch­e­lor, Bart Nolan and Matt Healy.

Strength in the air is of­ten piv­otal in cham­pion games and all eyes will be on the im­pact Har­row-bal­moral ruck­man Todd Lawrence has on the game.

Un­der-16 and un­der-18 games will be curtain rais­ers to the se­nior ac­tion. Pos­si­ble team B: Tay­lor Mil­ner, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley; Matthew But­ler, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley; Liam Jakobi, Pimpinio. HB: Dustin Cross, No­rad­juha-quan­tong; Liam Scott, Swifts; An­gus Martin, La­harum. C: Sam Mc­clure, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley; Ben Tay­lor, Swifts; Ja­cob Cocks, Jeparit-rainbow. HF: Si­mon Hobbs, Kal­kee; An­thony Close, Har­row-bal­moral; Nathan Koenig, Na­timuk United. F: An­drew Cameron, Swifts; Da­mon Folkes, Swifts; Damian Mon­aghan, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley. Foll: Todd Lawrence, Har­row-bal­moral; Nick Pekin, Har­row-bal­moral; Ryan Folkes, Swifts. In­ter: Jack Vague, No­rad­juha-quan­tong; Cam Bruce, No­rad­juha-quan­tong; Bail­lie Batch­e­lor, Kal­kee; Bart Nolan, Eden­hope-ap­s­ley; Matt Healy, Swifts; Alex Rids­dale, Na­timuk United.

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