Top two chance for Stawell
Stawell Warriors can vault into second place on Wimmera Football League ladder on Saturday as they prepare for a vital clash with Ararat at Alexandra Oval.
The Warriors celebrated the 20th anniversary of the merger between Stawell and the Warriors with an 11.10 (76) to 7.9 (51) win against Horsham Saints at the weekend, putting them within striking distance of the Rats.
Young defender Jackson Taurau was superb in the win, helping blunt the influence of a Saints forward line that had recorded its highest score of the season against Warrack Eagles in round 14.
Saints key forward Angus Martin – who entered the game having kicked 10 goals in his previous three outings – was restricted to a single major, while Sam Jasper was the team’s only multiple goal kicker with two.
Midfielder Jamie Bach and forward Tom Eckel joined Taurau among Stawell’s best, while Warriors Cody Driscoll and David Andrivon kicked four goals each.
Angus Gove and Cody Helyar were the Saints’ best in the loss.
Stawell now trails second-placed Ararat by four points and less than seven percent after the Rats’ 14.6 (90) to 10.11 (71) stumble against Southern Mallee Giants.
The Rats had plenty of the play in the opening term but failed to punish the Giants on the scoreboard, recording a wasteful 1.6 to their opponents’ 1.1.
Ararat straightened out its kicking to maintain a slim advantage at half time, but the Gaints, behind outstanding performances and a combined 10 goals from coach Coleman Schache and onballers Josh Webster and Tyler Lehmann, kicked away after the long break.
Rat Corey Taylor presented well up forward and kicked five goals, while Liam Arnott did his best to provide rebound from Ararat’s back half and Nick Mendes played to his usual high standard in the middle.
The Rats have spent most of the season in second place but suddenly look vulnerable after back to back losses.
The Giants could also conceivably surpass Ararat this round with a big win against Dimboola in their game at Dimboola on Saturday.
While the Rats look shaky, Minyip-murtoa continued its dominant home and away campaign with an 18.12 (120) to 6.8 (44) thumping of reigning premier Horsham, effectively ending the Demons’ finals chances.
Defender Tim Mackenzie was imperious for the Burras, helping surge the ball forward where Brad Inglis and Brayden Ison continued their strong form of recent weeks, booting seven and three goals respectively.
Horsham captain Ben Lakin continued to stand up in defence with Brodie Mines, Brad Harigan and four-goal Cullen Williams also contributing in the loss.
Nhill fell just short of capturing its second win of the season after fighting back gallantly from a 32-point quarter time deficit against Warrack Eagles.
The Tigers booted five goals to none in the second term with Frazer Driscoll, Toby Case and Scott Craig in the thick of the action, but Warrack pushed its lead back out to two goals in the third and held its nerve in a tense final term to win 9.11 (65) to 7.11 (53) at Brim.
Coach Ryan Mckenzie’s men were finally rewarded with their fourth win of the season after seven straight losses, with Mckenzie joining Nick Peters, Dane Stewart and Adam Schulz among the Eagles’ best.
The team will find the going tougher on Saturday when it takes on Minyip-murtoa at Murtoa, while Nhill will regroup to face Horsham at Davis Park.
CHASE: Minyip-murtoa’s Jake Ballagh tackles Horsham’s Deek Roberts. Minyip-murtoa continued dominant home and away campaign with an 18.12 (120) to 6.8 (44) thumping of the reigning premier. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER its