Demons march to first game win
Horsham unfurled its 2018 Wimmera league premiership flag before an Anzac Day blockbuster on Thursday night, but coach Deek Roberts said his side must improve if it hopes to defend its title.
The Demons got off to a slow start against Horsham Saints under lights at Horsham City Oval before kicking away in the final quarter to record a 14.8 (92) to 6.6 (42) victory in their first match of the season.
Roberts was pleased with his side’s second half but admitted it took some time for the Demons to find their groove.
“I think at quarter time the turnovers were 27-22 – that is putrid,” he said.
“It probably wasn’t the greatest game to watch, and I wouldn’t say it was bad conditions out there. We tried to make the million-dollar kick instead of just taking the easy one.
“In the second half we gave the hands a bit more and didn’t go back behind our mark.
“I’d rather handball over the top and move it quickly because we’re a quick team, but in the first half we were happy just kicking over the mark, kicking down the line and we had to get that out of our game.”
The Saints led by a point at quarter time after getting the better of a spirited
but scrappy opening stanza, but the Demons began to control the match in the second term.
Rhona Conboy’s intercept work across half-back helped turn defence into attack for Horsham and the side responded with a quick four-goal burst in the first eight minutes of the second quarter.
A superb goal on the run from the pocket by Saints coach Luke Fisher kept his side in the match in the second quarter and a snap by Jacob O’beirne midway through the third drew the visitors within 10 points, but Horsham kept its composure to blow the Saints away in the final term.
Fisher lamented a lack of focus by his charges in key stages of the game.
“There were two five-minute patches where they probably kicked 10 of their goals, and they kicked 13 for the night so the rest of the game was fairly even,” he said.
“They were clean, ran for each other, worked for each other and we let them off the leash a couple of times.
“We weren’t working hard into space and weren’t pushing for each other out wide.
“You would’ve thought it was our first game for the year and not theirs.”
Fisher said he was encouraged by the performances of O’beirne and young defender Will Kennedy, who provided plenty of run out of the backline. Conboy and Cullen Williams were outstanding in defence for the Demons, while at the other end spearhead Josh Mibus booted five goals.
The Demons now take on Southern Mallee Giants at Hopetoun on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s grand final.
The clash should be an intriguing one, with the Giants coming off a hard-fought win against Warrack Eagles to move to 2-0 at the weekend.
The Eagles led by two goals at quarter time but were gradually reeled in by the Giants, who eventually ran out 11.11 (77) to 9.9 (63) winners.
A three-goal performance from Southern Mallee’s Coleman Schache earned him best afield honours, while Mitchell Gleeson shared in the spoils up forward with four goals.
Eagles co-coaches Shannon Argall and Ryan Mckenzie were standouts for the home team.
Ararat stayed atop the ladder with a dominant 86-point road win against Nhill. The Rats came out firing in a six-goals-to-none opening term and were helped by their accurate conversion in front of goals, booting 19.5 (119) to 4.9 (33) for the match.
A four-goal haul from Rats midfielder Jack Ganley was the standout performance of the day.
Ganley missed a large part of last season with a broken leg but has been in fine form to start 2019, named in Ararat’s best players in all three matches so far.
Minyip-murtoa was far too strong for Dimboola, recording 31 scoring shots to 13 in a 14.17 (101) to 4.9 (33) win at Dimboola.
Recruits Tim and Ben Mcintyre were in the thick of the action for the Burras and were among six players who booted two goals apiece.
Ash Clugston, who returned to Dimboola this year after several seasons at Jeparit-rainbow in the Horsham District league, was named the Roos’ best player and coach Justin Bugelaar was the side’s only multiple goal-kicker.
The Roos have another tough test ahead against Ararat at Alexandra Oval on Saturday, while Stawell will host Warrack Eagles and Nhill will travel to Coughlin Park to take on Horsham Saints.
Minyip-murtoa has a round three bye.
GOTCHA: Horsham Saint Sam Clyne tackles Horsham’s Rhona Conboy who produced a beston-ground performance. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER