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2017 HDFNL COUNTDOWN: Harrow-Balmoral Southern Roos on a mission

Murray Staude.

Murray Staude.

What do you get when you combine speed, a fresh attacking philosophy and raw desire to win a premiership?
A Harrow-Balmoral 2017 formula for success, that’s what, and it’s a formula that also sends an ominous warning to opposition clubs across the region.
History records that Harrow-Balmoral, representing a broad Wimmera-Western District crossover area and with one of the biggest followings in the competition, lost last year’s grand final to Southern Mallee Giants.
It also shows the Southern Roos led early in the game at Horsham City Oval before losing a second-half arm-wrestle.
The 25-point loss, while obviously disappointing for the club at the time, has provided the Roos with a mighty pre-season incentive.
The raw truth is that if the Southern Roos want to improve on last year, they have to win the flag.
Harrow-Balmoral coach Paul Cleaver is more than happy to list premiership success as a 2017 goal.
“Our focus is always to go one better,” he said.
“We want to be the best we can be. We are setting the bar pretty high and putting everything into getting there.
“Losing the grand final is an incentive. There is a lot of energy and drive among the playing group.
“There is a belief that we’re close and if we can find that bit extra then anything is a possibility. There is renewed energy and drive to get back to the same spot we were last year and to go one better.”
Cleaver said the Southern Roos had worked through a solid pre-season and attracted good numbers on the track.
“Most nights we’ve been getting between 30 and 38 players on the track and when we had Dustin Fletcher visiting it climbed to 46,” he said.
Harrow-Balmoral gritted out some stoic low-scoring wins last year and Cleaver is determined to introduce a more attacking style into the Southern Roos’ game.
“We will work on being a bit more attacking. We’ll look at a few blokes in different positions, creating multiple avenues to goal so if someone is having an off day it doesn’t affect the whole team. Yes, we should have a quick team,” he said.
“When we get periods in games when we’re on top we need to capitalise more and that means attacking.
“The flip-side is that it is fun to play and fun to watch.”
Helping Cleaver develop the game plan is one of the biggest recruits in the competition, Nick Pekin, who with Jason McIntosh is providing assistant coaching duties.
Pekin has been a stand out for Horsham in Wimmera league and Cleaver said the intense goal-kicking midfielder would provide infectious energy and passion to the playing group.
“He’s played some high-level footy and we have a lot of players still learning the craft.
His experience and knowledge will make all those guys around him better players,” he said.
Harrow-Balmoral also has former Natimuk goal-sneak Greg Hamilton, who played with Border Districts last year, on the list and others such as Robbie McKinnon, back after a lengthy stint overseas, and Cody Deutscher from Coleraine joining his brothers at the club.
“Our focus was to retain what players we had based on a belief that if we look after our own we won’t be plugging a dam wall every year. The aim is to keep what we have so that when any new players come along we can only improve,” Cleaver said.
Offsetting the build-up is a serious knee injury to Eric Guthrie, who will be sidelined for several weeks.
Guthrie hurt his knee water-skiing.
The approaching season represents a big year for Harrow-Balmoral, with volunteers preparing for club anniversary celebrations on the June long weekend.
Celebrations will reflect on 20 years of merger, a 10-year premiership reunion for the club’s 2007 flag and a 50-year reunion for the former clubs of Douglas-Miga Lake, Harrow and Pigeon Ponds, which remain part of the Southern Roos.

The entire March 29, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Mar 29 2017

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