Time to turn

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Wfl Finals - BY DAVID JOHNS

Wim­mera Foot­ball League fans have been wait­ing all year for Stawell to turn up the heat and time is tick­ing for the War­riors.

Stawell fin­ished fifth af­ter the home­and-away rounds, com­fort­ably mak­ing the fi­nals, but if we go on noth­ing ex­cept the team’s play­ing record this sea­son, there is lit­tle op­tion other than to pre­dict an early fi­nals exit.

The War­riors have not only strug­gled to beat teams sit­ting above them on the lad­der, but in some cases, no­tably in the past month, have strug­gled to get even close to their op­po­nents.

The team has copped hid­ings at the hands of premier­ship favourites Hor­sham and Minyip-mur­toa and has also been well off the pace against other fi­nal­ists War­rack Ea­gles and Hor­sham Saints. But fi­nals have a habit of un­earthing po­ten­tial and the faith­ful on the north­ern edge of the Great Di­vid­ing Range have fingers crossed that this will be the case. Stawell had one of the most promis­ing build-ups to the sea­son, in­clud­ing the ap­point­ment of young coach and on-field leader Tom Eckel.

Some long-time Wim­mera com­men­ta­tors went as far as pre­dict­ing the War­riors would win the flag.

There has been plenty of ta­lent on the Stawell list for much of the sea­son, which has left watch­ers across the league scratch­ing their heads about why the team has strug­gled to get a win­ning for­mula right.

But when watch­ing and analysing the Stawell game in depth with the Lo­cal Footy Live team this year, what’s been ob­vi­ous is that the team has fallen down in a va­ri­ety of ar­eas.

Crit­i­cally, for a team that has many tal­ented ball car­ri­ers, the War­riors have been dan­ger­ously hes­i­tant in tak­ing risks.

They there­fore have been caught out and forced to re­treat and play an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic de­fen­sive game.

This has ul­ti­mately fu­elled de­fi­cien­cies such as poor ap­proach into the for­ward arc and a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of con­fi­dence in tak­ing on tough op­po­nents.

Of course there have also been in­jury dilem­mas and Stawell has strug­gled to get its best team on the park.

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