Giants earn crack at Minyip-mur­toa

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY COLIN MACGILLIVR­AY

South­ern Mallee Giants will meet Minyip-mur­toa with a grand fi­nal spot on the line, while Hor­sham Saints and Ararat will fight to keep their sea­sons alive in a block­buster sec­ond week of Wim­mera football fi­nals.

The Giants earned the right to play the mi­nor-premier Bur­ras by down­ing Ararat 13.13 (91) to 7.4 (46) in Satur­day’s qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal at Mur­toa.

It was the Giants who drew first blood through key for­ward Ri­ley Lehmann but Ararat, play­ing with the wind at its back, worked its way on top.

Dy­lan Shel­ley’s long set shot gave the Rats their first, with hard-run­ning Jack Gan­ley adding a cou­ple and Tom Mills also split­ting the mid­dle to help the side es­tab­lish a two-goal lead at quar­ter time.

Sam White and Sam Wed­dell col­lected plenty of the football at half back for the Giants, but some­times strug­gled to pin­point tar­gets kick­ing into the wind.

But in the sec­ond quar­ter the Rats came to a screech­ing halt as the Giants pow­ered ahead.

Coach Cole­man Schache, who was kept quiet in the open­ing term, be­gan to find the football in the cen­tre and Ri­ley Lehmann con­tin­ued to present up for­ward.

Tyler Lehmann also used

his big frame to good ef­fect around the ball and Clint Bur­dett was dan­ger­ous on the out­side of packs.

Miss­ing late with­drawal Cody Lind­say, the Rats turned to ath­letic de­fender Jay­den Wright and Baydn Cos­griff in the ruck.

While Wright rucked ad­mirably against Gi­ant Reece Mc­nally for most of the day, his pres­ence was missed by the un­der-siege back­line.

Shel­ley was moved back af­ter kick­ing the open­ing goal, with Adam Haslett and Liam Arnott also do­ing their best to stem the tide and pro­vide re­bound.

But it was not enough to pre­vent the Giants go­ing into half time with a 19-point lead and all the mo­men­tum.

Ararat, des­per­ate to make the most of the wind in the third quar­ter, fought back with goals to Gan­ley, Shel­ley and the speedy Dy­lan Woods, but it seemed the Giants had a counter punch for ev­ery Ararat score.

With Ri­ley Cook play­ing loose in de­fence and Sam White also with­out a di­rect op­po­nent on oc­ca­sions, the Giants sti­fled Ararat with 4.9 to one be­hind in the last term.

Both sides were left bat­tered and bruised af­ter a phys­i­cal game that verged on spite­ful at times, with the Giants’ Mc­nally and star Ararat mid­fielder Dan Men­des both sport­ing prom­i­nent black eyes and Harry Gan­ley end­ing his day with ice strapped to his calf.

Schache said he was thrilled with the way his side em­braced the phys­i­cal­ity of fi­nals football.

“Fi­nals is al­ways a dif­fer­ent game, so it was pleasing to get a four-quar­ter per­for­mance,” he said.

“It was a phys­i­cal game, but that’s the joy of fi­nals I reckon; it’s al­ways ex­cit­ing. We’ll have a cou­ple of sore bod­ies, but noth­ing ice can’t fix.”

Ararat coach Shane Fisher said the ef­fort of his team had not been up to scratch.

“I was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed as a coach af­ter quar­ter time; we just shut up shop,” he said.

“From half back to half for­ward, in that third of the ground I thought our work rate was re­ally or­di­nary.

“If you have too many play or­di­nary it just domi­nos your team, and to­day we didn’t stand up.”

Fisher said the Rats were de­ter­mined to re­group and win through to a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal when they meet Hor­sham Saints on Sun­day at Nhill.

The Saints are rid­ing high af­ter one of their best de­fen­sive per­for­mances of the sea­son, stran­gling Stawell 8.5 (53) to 2.7 (19) in Sun­day’s elim­i­na­tion fi­nal at Beu­lah. Team de­fence has been the Saints’ call­ing card and it was on full dis­play in the first quar­ter as they held the War­riors score­less.

Xan­der Mcrae’s dom­i­nant show­ing against one of the league’s best for­wards in Cody Driscoll was em­blem­atic of the Saints’ day.

Al­though Driscoll took some good marks, he was made to work for ev­ery pos­ses­sion and kicked just one goal.

An­gus Martin was another stand­out, kick­ing three goals at cen­tre half for­ward and also spend­ing time in the ruck and on the ball.

Saints coach Luke Fisher said his team had per­formed bril­liantly and would try to repli­cate its form against the Rats.

“They beat us twice ear­lier in the year and it was good to get the one that mat­ters back,” he said.

“We suf­fo­cated ev­ery­thing they wanted to do of­fen­sively. It wasn’t just the back six, it was a real team de­fence that didn’t let them play their game style at all, and you could see how they were frus­trated with it.

“Hope­fully against Ararat it will be sim­i­lar to when we’ve played against them the past cou­ple of times where we don’t let them get out and run­ning, be­cause they’re a side that likes to run.

“If we can play our game style and win it at the con­test, we give our­selves ev­ery chance.”

Ararat’s Dy­lan Woods tack­les Sam White, South­ern Mallee Giants.

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