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11 September 2019
By Colin MacGillivray
Two-time reigning premier Horsham Saints will butt heads with Minyip-Murtoa in a Wimmera Netball Association preliminary final showdown at Dimboola on Sunday.
The Saints looked poised to repeat their finals heroics of the past two seasons when they came from fifth place to win two flags, having notched strong wins against Warrack Eagles in an elimination final and Ararat in Sunday’s first semi-final.
The Burras, meanwhile, must regroup quickly from a devastating 30-goal loss to Horsham in Saturday’s second semi-final.
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The win saw the Demons advance straight to the grand final, where they await the winner of Sunday’s preliminary final.
If they play as they did on Saturday, the premiership could be theirs for the taking.
The Demons shocked the Burras with a first-quarter blitz in which they scored 21 goals, 17 of them coming from the hot hand of Emma Buwalda.
The shell-shocked Burras found themselves down by 13 goals after only a quarter and were unable to recover.
Despite the best efforts of goal keeper Taylor Mentha and goal defence Alex Lang, as well as Ellie McGrath at wing defence, the margin continued to balloon, resulting in a 60-30 loss.
Buwalda finished the game with 45 goals but Horsham had winners all over the court.
Georgie Carberry and Romi Miller spent time alongside Buwalda in the goal ring, while Georgia Hiscock and Faith McKenzie kept dangerous Minyip-Murtoa goalie Kirby Knight to 17 made shots.
Burras coach Billie Bibby said while the loss set her team on its heels, the side had proven itself capable of rebounding quickly.
The Burras lost to Ararat in the final round of the home-and-away season before storming back to beat the Rats in finals a week later.
“I don’t think it will put a dent in our confidence,” Bibby said.
“Speaking to all of the girls after the game, they knew they didn’t play their best and they knew as a team we didn’t play our best.
“We know that we can play a lot better than we did and that’s what we’re going to focus on this weekend.”
Bibby said it was imperative her team did not give away another big start to Horsham Saints.
The Saints themselves will be looking to make some adjustments of their own after overcoming a sluggish first half to run over Ararat at the weekend.
Trailing by four goals at the long break, coach Shannon Cross opted to bring on towering goal defence Rene Caris, and the move yielded immediate results.
With windy conditions at Nhill wreaking havoc on goalies, Caris used her height to secure rebounds and send the ball back the Saints’ way.
At the other end her sister Maggie used her height to similar advantage, finishing the afternoon with 37 goals in a 45-36 win.
Ararat’s Racquel Scott battled hard against Saint goal attack Lavinia Fox, but Krystal Fisher simply did not have the height to counter Maggie Caris.
At the other end of the court, Horsham Saints’ Larnie Hobbs was terrific against Taylor Mason.
Cross said she had opted to integrate Rene Caris into the team slowly after she missed most of the season with football commitments, but said she was likely to start the defender on Sunday.
“The only reason we’ve started her on the bench the past couple of games is because she hasn’t had a lot of court time with the team throughout the season,” she said.
“Coming into the next couple of games that will change.
“I don’t think Minyip-Murtoa can have too many bad games in a row, and I feel like they’re going to bounce back and be determined to knock us out.
“It’s going to be tough. Their defensive pressure is very tight, so we’ll have to take care of the ball and be short and sharp down the court and try not to throw the ball away.”
The entire September 11, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!