Finals kick off
Six Horsham District football teams will now turn their attention towards the finals after the home and away season wrapped up on Saturday.
Reigning premier Harrow-balmoral heads a list of finalists that includes Edenhope-apsley, Natimuk United, Noradjuha-quantong, Swifts and Jeparit-rainbow.
The Roos are clear favourites to capture back-to-back flags, a point underlined by their dominant 23.11 (149) to 5.1 (31) win against the Storm at the weekend.
The floodgates opened after half time, with the Roos outscoring their opponents 90-13 in the second half.
Midfielder Peter Staude led the rout, with Eric Guthrie and coach Nick Pekin also finding plenty of the ball.
Edward Ferguson finished the afternoon with three goals — one of five Roos to do so — in his best game for the year.
It was a disappointing day for Jeparit-rainbow, which remains the only club to have beaten Harrow-balmoral in the past two seasons.
Backman Simon Clugston and centre Brad Hunter were the Storm’s best, while coach Dan Batson
kicked two on a lean day for the team’s forwards.
Second-placed Edenhope-apsley also powered its way into the finals with a 26.16 (172) to 3.3 (21) win against Laharum, orchestrated by Bart Nolan, Will Mcevoy and Lachie Middleton.
Charlie Campbell bobbed up to kick five goals for the Saints, matching George Walker’s total for the day.
Coach Tom Crawford and big man Mitch Horwood were Laharum’s best.
While the result capped a difficult season for the Demons, supporters still had reason to smile as veteran and respected clubman Gerard ‘Jedi’ Matthews played his 250th senior game.
Another club stalwart — Rupanyup’s Paul Trotter — also notched an impressive milestone, playing his 300th game in an upset win against finals-bound Swifts.
The defender was among the Panthers’ best in the 14.7 (91) to 10.8 (68) win, with Elliot Kelly, Campbell Matthews and Darby Harrison shining alongside him.
For the Baggies it was a less than ideal hitout before the finals, with defender Todd Matthews and fivegoal forward Zach Salmi among the few standouts.
Natimuk United secured its first top-three finish in more than 20 years when it beat Kalkee 13.20 (98) to 8.20 (68) at Kalkee.
It was a day of celebrations for Rams supporters, who relished beating the Kees for the first time since the 1990s.
Making the day even more special was the fact club legend Simon Mentz — now in his 50s — played in the win.
Among a host of strong performers for the Rams were Justin Bromley, Mitch Riddell and forward Jaydon Stiles, who claimed the league goal-kicking title with seven majors.
Noradjuha-quantong also ended its season on a high, sneaking into fourth place after defeating Taylors Lake 11.19 (85) to 3.10 (28).
While the game was not the most aesthetically pleasing spectacle, the Bombers would still be thrilled to earn their first finals berth in eight years.
They will take on Swifts in an elimination final at Kalkee on Sunday, while Natimuk United will play a cutthroat final against Jeparit-rainbow at Stawell’s North Park on Saturday.
For full finals previews for all teams, find a 20-page liftout in today’s edition of The Weekly Advertiser.