De­mons top tip but Rats on rise

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

There is lit­tle chance of Wim­mera Foot­ball League fans having two bob each way when tip­ping a win­ner from Wim­mera Foot­ball League’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal at Mur­toa on Sun­day.

Most pun­ters, un­der­stand­ably, would have their money on the nose for Hor­sham to soundly beat Ararat and con­firm its place in a grand fi­nal against South­ern Mallee Giants.

But, as the old say­ing goes, don’t be too quick to put down your glasses.

We’re talk­ing about fi­nals here, not the home-and-away se­ries, which means it is often best to ex­pect the un­ex­pected.

Ararat, in clip­ping Hor­sham Saints’ wings in a sec­ond semi-fi­nal last week, might have done enough to not only an­swer doubters, but also gen­er­ate price­less self-con­fi­dence.

The Rats, who this year sim­ply hoped to make the fi­nals, let alone play in a grand fi­nal, have noth­ing to lose.

Hor­sham, un­like the nar­rowly win­ning Rats, go into Sun­day’s game a nar­row loser and as the reign­ing pre­mier and 2018 mi­nor pre­mier, has ev­ery­thing to lose.

It will be a sig­nif­i­cant test of Hor­sham’s met­tle if it can re­spond, as most peo­ple ex­pect, and douse the fire from Alexan­dra Oval. The De­mons, in their first fi­nals ap­pear­ance this year, had to en­dure a hard-hit­ting con­test against the Giants in Ararat last week.

De­spite ul­ti­mately having more scor­ing shots than the Mallee force, Hor­sham came off sec­ond best.

And al­though liv­ing to fight an­other day, the De­mons sud­denly find them­selves in vul­ner­a­ble ter­ri­tory.

Hor­sham lost its way slightly mid­way through the con­test against the Giants and it proved costly.

But, im­por­tantly, es­tab­lished lead­ers Brad Har­ti­gan, Ryan Kemp, Ben Lakin, Jor­dyn Burke and Rhona Con­boy all fea­tured in Hor­sham’s best.

It will be the abil­ity of this back­bone group, which also in­cluded Daw­son Cross on Satur­day, to bring team-mates into the game that will have a mighty say whether the De­mons go on to de­fend their ti­tle.

Rats look good

Ararat fought its way to a gritty win over Hor­sham Saints, re­spond­ing to the dis­ap­point­ment of a qual­i­fy­ing­fi­nal loss to the Giants ear­lier in the fi­nals.

The Rats’ win on Sun­day, which came after a tit-for-tat sec­ond-half bat­tle against a side renowned for en­deav­our, proved they had har­dened off con­sid­er­ably.

It also ex­posed how well an Ararat on-ball bri­gade led by Dan Men­des can per­form in big games.

Jack Gan­ley, Nick Men­des, Jake Robin­son, Ri­ley Tay­lor and Tom Mills were oth­ers in the votes for the Rats and Lachie Hamil­ton pro­vided an im­por­tant goal-front tar­get with five goals.

Could a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal get any bet­ter? It’s city team against city team, old en­e­mies rekin­dling ri­val­ries dat­ing back to the league’s in­cep­tion.

Hor­sham loves be­ing tested and will re­spond and will even­tu­ally win by five goals.

Watch­ing the ac­tion un­fold of course will be the South­ern Mallee Giants, safe and se­cure with a spot in the grand fi­nal.

Get­ting to the grand fi­nal is an achieve­ment in it­self and rep­re­sents the lat­est step up a re­mark­able re­gional foot­ball climb for the club.

The Giants have in­her­ited a Mallee rugged­ness, per­haps no bet­ter ex­em­pli­fied than through pow­er­ful Tyler Lehmann.

The team also has ob­vi­ous tal­ent through lines un­der coach Cole­man Schache and on Satur­day rover Clint Bur­dett bobbed up again in an­other good game with three goals.

Reece Mc­nally, Sam White and Brock Or­val were oth­ers to top best-player lists as the team now en­joys a rest.

REA­SON TO CEL­E­BRATE: Ararat for­ward Lachie Hamil­ton pumps the air and cel­e­brates one of his five goals. Pic­ture: PAUL CARRACHER

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