Mon­tagna draws a crowd

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sports - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Ararat will el­e­vate its guns to line up a tar­get fur­ther to the north-west in Wim­mera Foot­ball League later this month af­ter record­ing one of its best starts to a sea­son in years.

The Rats are sched­uled to take on Horsham Saints in a round-two road trip to Cough­lin Park on April 28 af­ter scor­ing a com­pre­hen­sive Good Fri­day win against Stawell.

Ararat was too good for the vis­it­ing War­riors in the one-off sea­son opener at Alexan­dra Oval, run­ning away with the con­test to win by 83 points.

It was a big seven-goal sec­ond quar­ter that es­tab­lished a win­ning break for the Rats, who had been on the hunt for a pro­found start to the sea­son in ef­forts to break free of a grow­ing threat of medi­ocrity.

Play­ers such as Jake Wil­liamson, on the ball, Jack Gan­ley, Tyler Cronin and Zach Louder all played in­te­gral roles in the vic­tory and Ben Free and Cooper Heard kicked three goals each.

The clash, the only foot­ball fix­ture in the re­gion, at­tracted a big crowd, es­ti­mated to be in the sev­eral thou­sands, with many com­ing to watch for­mer St Kilda star Leigh Mon­tagna play in a one-off game in the red and white.

Mon­tagna showed patches of the class that won him an ex­pan­sive rep­u­ta­tion in the AFL and also kicked a goal.

Stawell, mean­while, will now have five weeks to re­group un­til fi­nally get­ting back into home­and-away ac­tion in a home game against Nhill on May 5. The War­riors, as well as hav­ing to con­tend with the ex­panses of the Ararat oval first up, were also miss­ing prize re­cruit and for­mer AFL player Jack An­thony with a mi­nor in­jury com­plaint and a few other key play­ers.

But Jack­son Dark stood tall and Sam Wil­liams, and three-goal David An­drivon were good dur­ing the con­test.

Ararat pres­i­dent David Jen­nings said the Good Fri­day fix­ture had been a re­sound­ing suc­cess.

“We’ve em­braced it, so has Stawell and crowd said they wanted it as well, vot­ing with their feet. It shows that we have to think out­side the square more and keep ex­plor­ing ways to at­tract peo­ple to our footy,” he said.

“It was good dur­ing the game and af­ter­wards and gain­ing the ser­vices of Leigh Mon­tagna was a suc­cess­ful ex­er­cise that I’m sure more than paid for it­self. He did every­thing ex­pected of him and more. Noth­ing was too hard for him – he was great for the play­ers, the pub­lic, every­one. He was very pop­u­lar.”

• The next Wim­mera round-one match will fea­ture War­rack Ea­gles and South­ern Mallee Gi­ants on April 14.

SUC­CESS­FUL VISIT: For­mer AFL and St Kilda star Leigh Mon­tagna lines up for goal while rep­re­sent­ing Ararat in a Wim­mera Foot­ball League Good Fri­day match at Alexan­dra Oval. Mon­tagna also took part in club train­ing ses­sions and gath­er­ings as part of his...

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