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WFL FINALS: Saints are on the radar

Horsham Saints coach Luke Fisher.

Horsham Saints coach Luke Fisher.

By DAVID JOHNS
A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given you two bob to put on Horsham Saints to have any sort of impact on Wimmera Football League’s finals series.
Early in the season the side, while showing glimpses of the competitiveness that took it to a back-to-back flag last year, appeared well off the pace and destined to battle it out on the top-five fringe.
It was the form and fortune that many league followers had predicted considering the club had continued to turn over players, had a new coach and had parked itself into a consolidating mode.
But how things change in only a few short weeks.
It is almost as if the Saints, in catching the scent of approaching finals in the nostrils, have suddenly evolved into a fresh and threatening force.
Forget about what happened last weekend in the last-hurrah home-and-away game – it’s irrelevant. It’s what’s been happening in little more than the past month that tells the story.
After a heavy and crushing 89-point disaster to Minyip-Murtoa and then a relatively narrow loss to Warrack Eagles in July, the Saints went on to win equally tight games against Nhill and Ararat.
But then, it suddenly got interesting.
The Saints ripped through Stawell in a landmark result and then shocked the competition with victory over Minyip-Murtoa.
The round-15 win represented a 17-goal turnaround from when the club had previously played the Burras.
But what does it all mean now, as the team prepares an attempt to collect a rare hat-trick of flags?
What has been critical in the team’s evolution is that it has worked out a way to kick enough goals to win games. This is significant because the Saints have struggled all season to kick winning scores.
Was it a coincidence that this turned around when Jacob Cooke-Harrison returned to the Saints? Not on your life, it meant everything and with Cooke-Harrison ineligible to play in the finals there is again a question mark about Saints’ ability in front of the sticks.
Cooke-Harrison hasn’t kicked all the goals but his creativity and influence in the forward line is significant and his absence means the Saints have to find someone else to play that role.
The Saints have other goal-kicking options in the likes of Matt Combe and young Mitch Martin and also rely heavily on midfielders to push forward and kick goals.
This midfield group has become the backbone of the Saints game with Toohey Medallist Sam Clyne, Jacob O’Beirne, Sam Jasper and coach Luke Fisher, whose impact on the game is increasing every week. This is a formidable group when on song.
The Saints are workman-like in much of their approach, especially from defence where Ryan Bird, Xander McRae and Andrew Devereaux work solidly to limit opposition opportunities.
In summary, Horsham Saints’ finals chances will rely heavily on the leadership of Fisher and the form of their highly rated midfield in defence as well as attack. Critically, their ability to kick a winning score with a star short in attack might ultimately prove to be their achilles heel.
Horsham Saints’
road to the finals
Coach: Luke Fisher

Round 1: L. 7.11 (53) lost to Horsham 14.11 (95). Away.
Round 2: W. 11.14 (80) d Dimboola 2.6 (18). Home.
Round 3: L. 6.6 (42) lost to Minyip-Murtoa 13.6 (84). Away.
Round 4: L. 6.11 (47) lost to Warrack Eagles 7.9 (51). Home.
Round 5: W. 12.16 (88) d Nhill 13.3 (81). Away.
Round 6: W. 19.13 (127) d Ararat 10.7 (67). Away.
Round 7: L. 11.8 (74) lost to Stawell 16.7 (103). Home.
Round 8: L. 1.10 (16) lost to Horsham 11.13 (79). Home.
Round 9: W. 14.9 (93) d Dimboola 8.15 (63). Away.
Round 10: L. 2.1 (13) lost to Minyip-Murtoa 15.12 (102). Home. **
Round 11: L. 10.14 (74) lost to Warrack Eagles 12.13 (85). Away.
Round 12: W. 11.13 (79) d Nhill 9.13 (67). Home.
Round 13: W. 8.10 (58) d Ararat 8.5 (53). Home.
Round 14: W. 17.16 (118) d Stawell 6.10 (46). Away.
Round 15: W. 11.9 (75) d Minyip-Murtoa 8.10 (58). Away.
Round 16: W. 21.5 (131) d Nhill 13.8 (86). Home. *
*Highest score. ** Lowest score.
Total: Won: 9. Lost: 7. For: 1168. Against: 1138.Points: 36. Percentage: 92.60.

Leading goal-kickers
Matt Combe 29, Sam Jasper 19.

The entire August 30, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Short URL: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/?p=48242

Posted on Aug 30 2017

Posted by on Aug 30 2017. Filed under 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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