Intrigue, anxiety and upsets
It’s already started! The intrigue, the anxiety and the upsets! If there’s one thing we can safely predict on the arrival of football finals it is to expect the unexpected.
In Horsham District league this type of atmosphere started to unfold last week and the uncertainty missing from much of the home-and-away season is now generating a new level of interest for the finals.
There has been plenty to capture the attention of fans and at the top of the list is Natimuk United’s successful 11th-hour tilt at a place in the finals.
The Rams needed to beat Edenhopeapsley to snatch sixth spot and secure a place in a first elimination final and did so, albeit in a mighty struggle at Edenhope.
The visitors came from eight points behind at the final change to secure a 14-point victory and earn a showdown against Swifts on Saturday. Natimuk United and Swifts will make the trip north to Beulah for a battle that could fall either way.
While the Rams managed to get their nose in front at Edenhope, thirdplaced Swifts had to fight off a dogged Rupanyup to finish their minor season with a 12-point win.
What it means is that both teams will be well and truly match-hardened from the opening whistle this weekend.
For the Rams last week, it was again Alex Ridsdale who was among team leaders, while Jono Lovel continued his fine form and Hayden Fleay, Jesse Wilkinson, Ash Pekin and Callum Cameron also had good games.
Swifts’ Andrew Cameron slotted another five goals to finish his homeand-away season with a healthy 73 and a chance to add more during the finals.
Others to prime themselves for the finals with good games included Jake Goodes, Ryan Folkes, Adrian Reid, Nick Pickering and Matt Healy.
Natimuk United played with enormous endeavor last week and might just sneak across the line against the Baggies.
The Rams’ appearance in the finals will be their first since Natimuk and Horsham United merged and the first for a Natimuk team since 1997.
Finals action continues at North Park in Stawell on Sunday when Jeparitrainbow meets Laharum with a degree of uncertainty surrounding both sides.
Jeparit-rainbow was dealt a huge blow with key-position utility Simon Clugston suffering a broken leg against Pimpinio last game.
Laharum, meanwhile, enters the finals after coming off second best in a boilover result against Noradjuhaquantong.
Jeparit-rainbow has been struggling to find it’s A Grade game of late and co-coaches Ash Clugston and Luke Murphy now have to do even more reshuffling.
The Storm has plenty of good players and Peter Weir in attack or defence might have a huge say on what happens.
Shane Maslin has been a good player this year, Sean Bayzand enjoys a biggame environment and Justin Cozens can be damaging if he gets his tail up.
Laharum lost by two goals to Noradjuha-quantong last week in a result that was far from ideal finals preparation.
Laharum trailed at every change, coming up against willing players such as Jack Vague, Cam Bruce, Dustin Cross and co.
Joint Laharum coach Robbie Miller
ACROSS THE LEAGUES
was out with suspension, begging the question – do the Demons rely too much on the ball-winner?
Miller will be back on Sunday, alongside joint leader Todd Heynen and other good players from last week including Tom Crawford, Dylan Cross, Gerard Matthews, Angus Martin and Will Miller.
Robbie Miller will have a huge impact and ultimately be the difference on Sunday.
In other results from last week, Southern Mallee Giants claimed the minor season with a big win over Kalkee, with Kain Robins kicking nine goals to finish the season proper with 111.
Harrow-balmoral won by more than 40 goals against Taylors Lake and the Storm and Tigers shared the points when their game was called off after time lost due to Simon Clugston’s injury.