If there was ever a dark horse, smoky or whatever other title you would use for a dangerous underdog team approaching a netball finals series, Horsham Saints certainly qualify. Wow! The Saints have mirrored their football counterparts and come from nowhere and are perhaps considering adding some silverware to their new clubrooms at Coughlin Park. Horsham Saints have finished fifth, which on paper is good but nothing to really write home about. But it’s their threatening form that has Wimmera Netball Association abuzz and the nerves of opposition teams aflutter. What’s happened to suddenly make the Saints so dangerous? The team appeared relatively unsettled and was on the end of confidence-shattering losses early in the season. But all of a sudden, with the critical scalp of Warrack Eagles in round 11, the team’s confidence jumped and the team’s connections have started working. The side is dancing to its own tune and ignoring opposition reputations and even circumstances to commit to game plans. Players are keen to maintain their spots in the team. The Saints are getting a sniff of what they need to do and gaining a clear understanding of the level they need to reach to compete against the competition yardsticks The team’s growth in stature strengthened with a narrow but fighting two-goal loss to Minyip-murtoa in the final round, sending alarm bells out across the top five.
Horsham Saints boast an eclectic and talented mix of players and none are more exciting to watch than Caris sisters Maggie and Rene.
They are serious book-end players and rising stars with the oldest of the pair and fierce competitor Rene holding down a keeper position, and Maggie constantly ticking the scoreboard over as shooter.
They will play a critical role in any Horsham Saints success, but form suggests that what the outfit needs to progress deep into the finals is a broad team effort.
The Saints also have a versatile star in Tara Jasper who is a proven ball-winner in every position from goal defence to the midcourt, and now forming a combination in attack with Maggie Caris.
She is also a tough competitor, similar to many of her team-mates, and it might be many of the players’ pursuit of women’s football opportunities on the side that has added extra steel to their game.
Others players to watch for the Saints in the finals are Shannon Reinheimer, Ashlee Grace and Ashley Hobbs, who can mix it with the best through the middle of the court.
Megan O’connor might also be an extra foil in attack and there is no doubt team leader Jess Cannane provides inspiration out of defence.
The word from Coughlin Park in Horsham is – watch out, the Saints are up and about.