Uncertainty to fully test teams
We could go through the motions and pencil HarrowBalmoral in for a semi-final win over Kalkee in Horsham District football on Saturday.
Yes, if finals were to follow homeand-away form, the Southern Roos would either skip away early or trade goals with the Kees for a half before then powering away and winning by about half a dozen goals.
But finals have a habit of producing something a bit different from the average week-to-week football fixture. And it’s this air of unpredictability that Kalkee will hope floats across Natimuk Showground and stirs a pot of intrigue.
Harrow-balmoral is red-hot favourite to win the flag, which means everyone else in the finals is hunting the south-west force.
In the past couple of weeks opposition team leaders would have studied, analysed, scrutinised and picked the Roos’ game apart in search of weaknesses.
They would have struggled to find many, a fascinating development considering many predicted pre-season the Roos would tumble down the ladder.
Nick Pekin has his men firing and would be confident his group would have benefitted from a rest last week. He will know that when the teams last met the likes of Will Plush, Harrison Rees, James Staude and Clint Robinson shone and that he has plenty of other players such as Simon Close and Todd Lawrence, to name a few, to step up in a big game.
Kees coaching duo Stuart Farr and Hamish Exell, similar to Pekin, will know all about the vagaries of finals football, as will players such as Simon Hobbs and veteran Steve Schultz.
Hobbs and Schultz are part of the goal-kicking weaponry for the Kees, alongside Jayden Kuhne and Lachie Exell.
This game should be outstanding and most likely a preview to the grand final.
Can the Roos continue their surge or will it be the Kees who taste first blood? We’ll wait and see but it’s the Roos who start the contest as favourites.
The action will be no less intense in a cut-throat semi-final between Jeparit-rainbow and Edenhope-apsley at Dock Lake Reserve on Sunday.
Both teams survived grueling elimination finals last week, Jeparit-rainbow clinching a drama-filled clash against Natimuk United by 17 points and Edenhope-apsley coming from behind to dash Swifts’ hopes.
Last week’s results suggest there will be no easing of the pressure with both teams putting their credentials on the line.
While the Storm and Saints can already claim a degree of 2018 success by scoring wins in the finals, a preliminary final spot is up for grabs and everything else, for the moment, is irrelevant.
But a taste of finals success might be the tonic that Jeparit-rainbow needed to spur itself on in the last month of the season.
Last week against the Rams, according to club scrutinisers, Ben Marra was at the pointy end of the Storm effort, alongside Tyler Edelsten, Luke Werner and Brad Hunter.
Critically, Daniel Batson kicked five goals and Peter Weir had an impact.
For the Saints, Jak Ryan and Matt Butler kicked six goals between them as Lachie Middleton impressed.
Edenhope-apsley had to make up a 32-point last-change deficit and a seven-goal final term underscored a message that it well and truly meant business in this finals series.
This contest is a two-bob each way bet, especially on neutral ground and considering it’s one-all between the two during the season.
BIG TARGET: Jeparit-rainbow’s Brad Hunter gets a kick away during a Horsham District elimination final last week. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER