Mallee clash to kick-start sea­son

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Amighty Mallee clash at Rain­bow is primed to set an earl­y­sea­son bench­mark when Hor­sham District Foot­ball Net­ball League’s sea­son kicks off on Satur­day.

Reign­ing pre­miers South­ern Mallee Giants, still smol­der­ing af­ter run­ning through the competitio­n like a bush­fire last sea­son, are on the hunt for back-to-back flags.

The Giants, un­der new lead­er­ship and look­ing just as good as they did last year, have pen­cilled in a win over Jeparit-rain­bow as the launch­ing pad for an­other big year.

Coach Shaun Mono­han will give the Giants a free rein to back them­selves to get the ball quickly to a po­tent at­tack­ing arc, which means Jepar­i­train­bow will have to be ready to also run hard to hurt the vis­i­tors on the counter-at­tack.

Jeparit-rain­bow, which has climbed the lad­der of ex­pec­ta­tion in its fledg­ling his­tory in the competitio­n, is also hun­gry for suc­cess and should come out strongly. The Storm, with Ash Clugston and Luke Mur­phy calling the shots, will con­sider its first-up match as the start of a cam­paign to win ma­jor bat­tles.

The club has re­cruited strongly and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether the club en­gages a new de­fen­sive strat­egy from the open­ing con­test.

South­ern Mallee Giants will be too strong but much de­pends on Jepar­i­train­bow’s ap­proach to take on the reign­ing premier.

An­other of last year’s grand fi­nal­ists, Har­row-bal­moral, meets Kal­kee at Kal­kee in an­other game likely to pro­vide early in­sight into team for­tunes.

The Roos have been fired up all pre-sea­son af­ter last year’s loss at the death­knock and meet a re­de­vel­op­ing Kees side that will need all guns fir­ing from the open­ing bounce.

Word is the Roos will be play­ing with a greater em­pha­sis on at­tack­ing this year, which means Kal­kee might have to find a way to curb the home side’s speed and run.

Kees coach Hamish Ex­ell has promised a sim­ple ap­proach to win­ning games this year but he and his brains trust are likely to have their hands full.

If you lis­ten to in­sid­ers, the Roos are likely to win com­fort­ably.

Rob­bie Miller and Todd Hey­nen’s La­harum takes on Josh Bed­di­son’s Pimpinio at La­harum in a con­test where both sides will be keen to flush out suc­cess with new game plans.

Play­ing lists have un­der­gone a con­sid­er­able reshuf­fle in an at­tempt to find win­ning for­mu­las and it will be the home team that comes out on top. But watch out for the Tigers – they might have some­thing up their sleeves.

Na­timuk United has been the sub­ject of plenty of pre-sea­son talk since the ar­rival of new coach Sam An­son but it might sim­ply be player depth that pro­vides it with any edge over Ru­pa­nyup.

The Rams have good num­bers and a new ap­proach and take on a Pan­thers side that will also un­veil a new-look squad.

Pan­thers coach An­drew May knows how to win foot­ball matches and new play­ers in the camp are more than handy. Pan­thers to win? Per­haps, but the Rams are likely to be hard to beat this sea­son.

A bat­tle of the com­bines will un­fold at Eden­hope where Eden­hope-ap­s­ley meets No­rad­juha-quan­tong. If it shapes up as pre­dicted, Eden­ho­peap­s­ley will have a power-packed for­ward line, which means op­po­si­tion sides might have trou­ble con­tain­ing the west Wim­mera force.

Saints coach Michael Rowe in the ruck of­ten gives his team first use of the ball and that might spell dan­ger for the vis­it­ing Bombers.

No­rad­juha-quan­tong coach Heath Fran­cis has raw tal­ent com­ing through the ranks but it re­mains to be seen if his tal­ented young­sters can con­tain the Saints.

Swifts play Tay­lors Lake at Dock Lake Re­serve and this con­test might quickly re­veal if the vis­it­ing Bag­gies will live up to pre­dic­tions of a resur­gence and if the Lak­ers will strug­gle or steam for­ward.

The Lak­ers and coach Jye Smith are plac­ing enor­mous faith in the char­ac­ter of a young play­ing group while Swifts on-field leader Scott Carey will back a com­bi­na­tion of prepa­ra­tion, en­thu­si­asm and new faces.

ALL SMILES: Kain Robins cel­e­brates South­ern Mallee Giants’ pre­mier­ship in 2016.

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