In­trigue, anx­i­ety and up­sets

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

Sec­ond elim­i­na­tion

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.

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