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WFL FINALS: Time for Stawell to turn up the heat

Aiden Potter, Stawell, Stawell vs Ararat in the first WFL Good Friday game.

Aiden Potter.

By DAVID JOHNS
Wimmera Football League fans have been waiting all year for Stawell to turn up the heat and time is ticking for the Warriors.
Stawell finished fifth after the home-and-away rounds, comfortably making the finals, but if we go on nothing except the team’s playing record this season, there is little option other than to predict an early finals exit.
The Warriors have not only struggled to beat teams sitting above them on the ladder, but in some cases, notably in the past month, have struggled to get even close to their opponents.
The team has copped hidings at the hands of premiership favourites Horsham and Minyip-Murtoa and has also been well off the pace against other finalists Warrack Eagles and Horsham Saints.
But finals have a habit of unearthing potential and the faithful on the northern edge of the Great Dividing Range have fingers crossed that this will be the case.
Stawell had one of the most promising build-ups to the season, including the appointment of young coach and on-field leader Tom Eckel.
Some long-time Wimmera commentators went as far as predicting the Warriors would win the flag.
There has been plenty of talent on the Stawell list for much of the season, which has left watchers across the league scratching their heads about why the team has struggled to get a winning formula right.
But when watching and analysing the Stawell game in depth with the Local Footy Live team this year, what’s been obvious is that the team has fallen down in a variety of areas.
Critically, for a team that has many talented ball carriers, the Warriors have been dangerously hesitant in taking risks.
They therefore have been caught out and forced to retreat and play an uncharacteristic defensive game.
This has ultimately fuelled deficiencies such as poor approach into the forward arc and a deterioration of confidence in taking on tough opponents.
Of course there have also been injury dilemmas and Stawell has struggled to get its best team on the park.
The good news is the only option left for the Warriors in the finals is to take the game on, and we just might see the Stawell we got to know from last year’s final series re-emerge.
Stawell’s team leaders will be essential in getting this right.
This all stems from Eckel in his direction, personal game and leadership.
If he manages to get his hands on the ball in space, we could see the run and carry of others such Cam Kimber, Jamie Bach, Jesse Galea-Portelli and talented Sean Mantell.
A few players have consistently flown the flag this year, such as David Andrivon, who has been a strong and creative forward and James Delahunty, when available, has been important.
Jackson Dark continues to be Stawell’s primary defensive player and Jack Beaton is good in the air, while in attack the side has numerous targets it needs to exploit.
These include Julian Carr, high-profile Travis Graham and Toohey Medallist and veteran Brent Tuckey.
In summary, the Warriors have to find something they haven’t had all year – a winning mentality – to push any further than the first week of the finals.
They have the team, but have they the will?
Stawell’s road
to the finals
Coach: Tom Eckel
Round 1: W. 15.14 (104) d Ararat 4.11 (35). Home.
Round 2: W. 16.12 (108) d Nhill 10.10 (70). Away.
Round 3: L. 12.5 (77) lost to Horsham 17.10 (112). Away.
Round 4: W. 16.12 (108) d Dimboola 9.7 (61). Home.
Round 5: L. 5.5 (35) lost to Minyip-Murtoa 12.9 (81). Away.
Round 6: L. 10.11 (71) lost to Warrack Eagles 14.8 (92). Home.
Round 7: W. 16.7 (103) d Horsham Saints 11.8 (74). Away.
Round 8: W. 15.4 (94) d Ararat 6.10 (46). Away.
Round 9: W. 13.9 (87) d Nhill 9.11 (65). Home.
Round 10: L. 8.7 (55) lost to Horsham 16.13 (109). Home.
Round 11: W. 26.6 (138) d Dimboola 9.17 (71). Away. *
Round 12: L. 6.9 (45) lost to Minyip-Murtoa 15.12 (102). Home.
Round 13: L. 9.8 (62) lost to Warrack Eagles 14.13 (97). Away.
Round 14: L. 6.10 (46) lost to Horsham Saints 17.16 (118). Home.
Round 15: L. 1.2 (8) lost to Horsham 17.20 (122). Home. **
Round 16: W. 13.7 (85) d Ararat 10.9 (69). Away.
* Highest score. ** Lowest score.

Total: Won: 8. Lost: 8. For: 1226. Against: 1324. Points: 32. Percentage: 92.60.
Leading goal-kickers
David Andrivon 38, Travis Graham 35, Brent Tuckey 23, Julian Carr 23.

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

Short URL: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/?p=48237

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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