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    STANDOUT: Former AFL number two draft pick Harley Bennell stole the show in a one-off appearance for Kaniva-Leeor United, kicking seven of the team’s 13 goals on Saturday. Picture: SYMONE MITCHELL
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    Tom Hair
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    Harrow Balmoral's Jai Thompson attempts to smother Pimpinio's Brock Hamerston kick
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    Adam Westley
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    Harrow Balmoral's Jai Thompson chased by Pimpinio's Jason Westley
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    Pimpinio's Adam Westley tackles Harrow Balmoral's Jai Thompson
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    Harrow Balmoral's George Austin
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    Dylan Bates
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    Michael Close takes a mark
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    Nick Pekin
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    Pimpinio's Braydon Witney punches the ball away from Harrow Balmoral's Jacob Hill
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    Harrow Balmoral's Jai Thompson tackled by Pimpinio's Adam Westley

Kaniva-Leeor Cougars are on the board

By Colin MacGillivray

No team will finish the Horsham District Football Netball League season winless after Kaniva-Leeor United’s senior footballers shook the monkey from their backs with a hard-fought victory against Taylors Lake on Saturday.

Former AFL number two draft pick Harley Bennell stole the show in a one-off appearance for the Cougars, kicking seven of the team’s 13 goals roaming across the half-forward line.

But while the ex-Gold Coast and Fremantle player was a clear standout, it was the efforts of the team’s lesser lights that impressed Kaniva-Leeor United coach Jono Hicks.

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“We lack a little bit of top-end talent, and getting recruits has been a challenge, but the local group has been as committed as I’ve ever seen them with putting in the work,” he said.

“Our whole leadership group has stood out all year. They’re consistent and put in a lot of hard work and do all the right things.

“Our leaders are good A-grade footballers in any side, and at times they really have to carry us, but it was good to see everyone doing all the hard things and putting in a good performance across the board.”

Among the Cougars’ best players were co-captains Billy King and Jock Maddern, while ruckman Hamish Bennett gave midfielders Charlie Maddern and Sam Vivian plenty of opportunities, and Joel Wagg celebrated his 250th senior game in style.

Kicking with the aid of a breeze in the first quarter, Kaniva-Leeor United jumped to a seven-point lead before the visiting Lakers hit back in the second term to lead by 12 at half time.

“In the second quarter they really got on top. That’s been a bit of a theme for us this year – we’re competitive for patches and when we have lapses teams kick multiple goals,” Hicks said.

“I was really proud of our guys in the third quarter. They stepped up and that’s what set it up for us.

“The last quarter was really tight and low-scoring with some contested and hot footy, and it was good to hang on.”

The final result was a 13.10 (88) to 12.6 (78) win that the Cougars players celebrated alongside their sponsors at a club function.

“Harley hung around after the game for our goods and services auction,” Hicks said.

“It was good fun. Harley was brilliant around the kids and our younger group. He’s a good educator.”

Taylors Lake’s best included brothers Brayden and Ryan Gebert along with coach Justin Beugelaar, who slotted eight goals.

Elsewhere, Kalkee came close to upsetting the visiting Noradjuha-Quantong, with the Bombers hanging on to win 10.5 (65) to 7.12 (54).

The match went according to script in the first half, with Noradjuha-Quantong leading by 26 points at the main break, but the Kees kicked 4.5 to a solitary goal in the third term to claw to within three points.

Despite strong efforts from Kalkee senior leaders such as Ben Lawson, who had four goals, as well as Patrick Mills, Matt Nield and Louis Papst, the Bombers held on in the final term. Zach Kelly was best afield for the visitors, with wingman Declan Bushby and midfielder James Hallett also shining.

Edenhope-Apsley stuck with Rupanyup for a half at Rupyanyup Recreation Reserve before the Panthers’ class told out, with the home side winning 11.13 (79) to 6.10 (46).

Bill Hansen, Kieran Sait, Mitchell Gleeson and Jimmy Finnigan led the way for Rupanyup in Scott Niewand’s 150th club game, while Jeremy Kealy, Boyd Packer and Adam Hood were the Saints’ best.


Harrow-Balmoral also flexed its muscles after a relatively close first half against Pimpinio, going on to win 21.12 (138) to 8.12 (60) on the road.

The combined firepower of Michael Close, Nick Pekin, Jai Thompson and Cody Deutscher, who kicked 16 goals between them, proved too much for the Tigers, who were best served by Matt Rosier and brothers Adam and Jason Westley.

Laharum decisively won the inaugural Battle of the Rocks, a celebration of Indigenous culture between them and Natimuk United.

With co-coach Robbie Miller claiming the game’s most-valuable-player medal, the Demons routed the visiting Rams 18.9 (117) to 4.2 (26).

There is a league-wide bye for the King’s Birthday long weekend, before action returns on June 15.

The entire June 5, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!