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WFL| Grand final: Horsham Saints v Minyip-Murtoa

Horsham Saints got the better of Minyip-Murtoa in a second-semi final? Will the Burras turn the tables on Saturday? Picture: WILLAMY IMAGES

Horsham Saints got the better of Minyip-Murtoa in a second-semi final? Will the Burras turn the tables on Saturday? Picture: WILLAMY IMAGES

By DEAN LAWSON
How much difference will it make? That’s the question Wimmera Football League fans will be asking before the opening whistle of a highly anticipated Wimmera Football League grand final on Saturday.
Utility Luke Chamberlain, who has had an outstanding season with Minyip-Murtoa, will be an unfortunate spectator in a grand-final showdown against Horsham Saints at Horsham City Oval.
The strong-marking aerialist, just as good in the clinches as he is in the air, went down with a broken leg early in the final term of a preliminary final at the weekend.
How big a hole his absence will create in the Burras’ list is anyone’s guess.
It certainly threatens to change the subtle dynamics of the Minyip-Murtoa team and play havoc with under-the-table bookies’ odds about who will win the showdown and by how much.
Horsham Saints would have been more than curious onlookers of events that ultimately led to the Burras scoring an exciting 11th-hour twilight win against Stawell in Ararat.
The Saints, enjoying the benefit of a week off, would have seen Minyip-Murtoa, which led by four points at three-quarter time, almost come a gutzer against a ripper Stawell effort when play resumed after a long delay involving Chamberlain’s injury.
Minyip-Murtoa president Andy Delahunty’s decision to allow the game to resume, regardless of the Burras being within their rights to claim victory after 30 minutes of lost time in the second half, will go down as one of the great sporting gestures in Wimmera football.
He and his club had everything to lose, yet he and his club gave Stawell more than a sporting chance of turning the tables.
Wimmera league president Trevor Albrecht described the moment as a ‘massive’ win for sportsmanship.
“It was a huge gesture and I bet his heart sunk when Stawell kicked the first two goals and hit the front when play resumed,” he said.
“He displayed great sportsmanship, courage and faith in his footy club, but also ensured a wonderful finish to a great game.
“It’s one of those things in football that I will never forget.”
So what’s the fall-out and what happens now?

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Psychology as well as strategy has an enormous role to play at the weekend and much of what happens nearing the end of 100 minutes of football will depend on how well either side mentally responds to the biggest game of the year. Horsham Saints, perhaps the most adaptable of teams in the competition in recent years, are going for their first back-to-back premiership title since joining Wimmera league in the 1990s.
The clash is possibly coaching mastermind Shayne Breuer’s last hurrah in charge of the Saints and considering the turnover of players from last year, the first opportunity for some to celebrate premiership glory. Minyip-Murtoa, such a powerhouse in the mid-1990s, has had a extended lean patch in grand-final appearances, let alone premierships. The Burras’ 1999 loss to Ararat represents the last time the Dunmunkle force played off for the trophy. Its last flag was in 1998.
Fitness tests
While Chamberlain is a major loss, the Burras have the players to cover him, although much will depend on the fitness of talented individuals who will undergo fitness tests tonight in an effort to rejoin the team.
Waiting in the wings to rejoin the senior list are stars and leaders John Delahunty, Damian Cameron and Blake Young, notable absentees from last weekend’s team.
Minyip-Murtoa coach Jaye Macumber agreed that being able to win the way the Burras did last week provided a spur for the season climax.
“No one wanted to win our place by default, and now we have given ourselves a good shot,” he said.
“We have played good footy during the year, and while we have lost our games against the Saints, we have still won five of the eight quarters. We have to go into the game with the right mindset and enjoy and embrace the day.
“Everyone is saying we won’t beat them, so it will be good to be back in the position of underdog.”
Horsham Saints are also hoping to have players such as Sam Jasper and Dan Rees clear of injury concerns this week.
Coach Shayne Breuer said he was rapt for his players and the effort they had put into getting to the final.
He said the weather might play a role in the game’s outcome, and while hoping for a clear sunny day, added the Saints would probably like the ball ‘on the deck’.
“We don’t have as much tall timber so we will try to get the ball back on our terms to run as much as we can. We have had to do that all year,” he said.
Dashing Saints
The Saints will hit the packs and dash and have a side well-equipped for the strategy.
Sam Clyne, Tom Payne, Rees and Kyle O’Connor will all be critical through the middle, and Jacob O’Beirne, Fergus O’Connor and Bowen Friend will also have a mighty say.
Ruckman Joel Richards has a massive task in the air, as does forward Heath Watson, Ryan Bird, Al Byrne and co.
Fans shouldn’t be surprised if noted stopper Alexender McRae lines up on Burras gun Clinton Young.
A wildcard will be Jacob Cooke-Harrison, who could win the game off his own boot for the Saints.
Minyip-Murtoa has dash of its own with the likes of Kade Petering, Woody Bucci, Liam Newell behind Clinton Young and John Delahunty, and had terrier Nick Kelson shining last week alongside fellow hard-ball players Justin Garth and Adam Gerdtz.
The Saints might struggle to match up well on young ruckman Kieran Delahunty, while Matt Coleman and Jae McGrath attempt to open the Burras’ attacking half.
As always, there are plenty of byplays adding intrigue to the grand final.
Brylie Cameron, among the Burras’ best last week, will play against his first cousin and Saints forward Angus Gove.
The Saints have had the wood on the Burras this season but the tables will turn if the weather is clear and fine.
Minyip-Murtoa will win a thriller by seven points.
MIXX FM’S Local Footy Live team will call the big game from 12.30pm.

The entire August 31, 2016 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online.
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Posted on Aug 31 2016

Posted by on Aug 31 2016. Filed under FEATURED, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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