Saints hang on in a nail-biter
Southern Mallee Giants will enter a bye week ruing a missed opportunity to shore up a top-five position against Horsham Saints at the weekend.
In a low-scoring affair at Horsham’s Coughlin Park, the Giants went down by three points to the Saints, losing 7.9 (51) to 7.6 (48).
The Giants had a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Saints reclaimed a three-point buffer by the half.
The sides were not separated by more than two goals all day as the Saints held the lead entering the final quarter.
In a hard-fought but similarly low scoring final quarter the Giants attempted to mount a comeback, with Sam White, Clint Burdett and coach Coleman Schache leading the charge in the midfield and Sam Weddell repelling the Saints in the backline.
The Giants narrowed the margin to within a goal but could not find the killer blow before the final siren sounded.
Jarred Combe was a hero for the Saints with three vital goals on a day when they were hard to come by, with Jacob O’beirne and Ollie Timms standouts in the midfield.
The victory keeps hopes of a finals berth alive for the sixth-placed Saints, who now turn their attention towards Dimboola.
The Roos were humbled by Stawell on a day when their most famous export – AFL legend Tim Watson – returned to the club for the first time in years.
The Warriors kept Dimboola goalless in the opening term and had established a 36-point lead by half time before running out 14.14 (98) to 6.9 (45) victors.
Stawell’s Tom Eckel was a standout with three goals, combining with Cody Driscoll, who kicked four, to exceed Dimboola’s total on their own.
Jack Walker and Jackson Dark were also in the thick of the action for Stawell, while Dimboola’s Matthew Rosier and Elliot Braithwaite were their team’s best.
Minyip-murtoa and Ararat confirmed their places as competition frontrunners with wins against Nhill and Horsham respectively.
The closeness of the Burras’ 16.16 (112) to 13.11 (89) win over the Tigers was surprising given they entered the round undefeated and the Tigers entered winless.
Nhill trailed by a single point at three quarter time with members of its 1969 premiership team looking on as part of 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Tigers were poised to celebrate the unlikeliest of wins after outscoring the Burras 5.5 to 3.2 in the third term, but the visitors finally hit their straps in the last quarter to post a victory.
Jae Mcgrath and Brad Inglis were the heroes for the Burras, kicking five goals each.
Drew Schneider was best afield for the Tigers as Frazer Driscoll and Stephen Craig, three goals each, led the team to its second highest score of the season.
Ararat sent a message to the rest of the competition and broke a 16-year hoodoo by downing reigning premier Horsham 11.9 (75) to 8.8 (56) at Alexandra Oval.
A second-quarter flurry of six goals cracked the game open for the Rats, who had not beaten Horsham since 2003.
Ararat’s Dylan Shelley and Ben Free combined to hit the scoreboard with three goals apiece and tough in-andunder midfielder Nick Mendes found plenty of the ball.
Jordyn Burke and coach Deek Roberts finished with two goals apiece and Rhona Conboy presented well, but Horsham’s scoring woes continued.
The Demons, last season’s highest-scoring team, have kicked more than 10 goals in a game only twice in 2019.
Horsham will need to regroup ahead of a match against a fresh Warrack Eagles outfit on Saturday.
Nhill will meet Stawell at Central Park and Minyip-murtoa will host Ararat in a top of the ladder showdown.
ON THE BOOT: Horsham Saint Ollie Timms gets a kick away as a pack of Southern Mallee Giants players pursue him. Timms was one of the Saints’ best in a threepoint win. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER