Ground: Central Park, Stawell, Saturday, 2.20pm.
Last time they met: Round 12, 2013. Horsham 15.21 (111) d Stawell 1.2 (8).
LADDER leader Horsham will go in as red-hot favourite in its clash with Stawell at Central Park, Stawell, on Saturday.
The Demons have found ways to win each of their five tussles this season – claiming victory by an average of 16 points – while the Warriors have just one win to their name.
But Demons coach Jordyn Burke said both sides’ records would count for nothing.
“Ladder position and wins and losses are irrelevant – they’re not important,” he said.
“The big thing for us is, while we’ve been playing some good footy, we haven’t found our best 21 or our best footy yet.
“We’re continually striving to get there – we’re training well and working well but Saturday is about taking that next step.”
Burke said he expected the Brad Cassidy-coached Warriors to fight back strongly after a heavy defeat in their last outing.
“Knowing Brad and a few of those blokes, they’ll be cherry-ripe to bounce back,” he said.
“They’ve got some very good players – they’re a young side – and they’ve shown they can put some good footy together and be dangerous if they’re going well.”
The Demons will have a number of in-form players returning from interleague duty, including midfielder Nick Pekin, defender Rhona Conboy and tall utility Sean Christopher.
“We don’t want any large defeats any more, we’ve got to concentrate on fighting games out to the death.''
Burke and fellow coach Brad Hartigan have recovered from injuries sustained in the Demons’ last game against Ararat, but Jeremy Hartigan and Ryan O’Connor will miss.
Stawell will regain forward Brenton Potter and midfielder-forward Toby Reid as it sets itself for another massive challenge.
Cassidy said a full team performance would be a necessity for his side. “Saturday's got to be about starting to achieve the goals that we’re setting ourselves,” he said.
“I’m looking for an effort from everyone – not only to attack and use the ball well, but to be involved with their voice and be prepared to lay a lot of tackles.
“We don’t want any large defeats any more, we’ve got to concentrate on fighting games out to the death.
“They’re obviously the top side, so it’s a good test for us, and we’ve got to come to the game confident and play confident footy.”
Warriors skipper Tom Eckel has been in superb form, while fellow midfielder Cam Kimber, defender Jackson Dark and forward Chris Ford have also been consistent contributors.
Cassidy said junior prospect Sam Williams, who was named Wimmera’s best player at under-18 level at the weekend, would keep his spot after playing his first senior game for the season before the break.