HORSHAM Saints have reiterated the Wimmera Football League premiership race is wide open after an upset 18-point win against Horsham at Coughlin Park on Sunday.
The Saints were made to earn their 10.14 (74) to 8.8 (56) victory in a physically taxing contest in scrappy conditions.
Little separated the sides in the first half as they exchanged goals, before the host opened up a 10-point advantage at half-time.
The Demons reclaimed the lead for a period in the third, but the Saints controlled the bulk of the fourth quarter to claim the win.
While the Saints remain in fourth place, they have regained the Pelican Cup – named in honour of the late Horsham premiership player and Horsham Saints premiership coach John O’Callaghan – and have closed the gap between themselves and the second-placed Demons to just four points.
Saints coach Shayne Breuer said it was a pleasing win.
“Horsham had a fair few out and had a lot of young guys in, but to get over the line and play four quarters of good footy was great,” he said.
“The boys stuck at it all day and to their credit they just kept going.
“The top six is really close and we’ve just got to keep getting the wins on the board to push ourselves higher up the ladder.”
Breuer said his side’s effort in the third quarter was decisive in the outcome.
Saints ruckman Michael Rowe was superb – both in the air and at ground level – while Nathan Clough and Alexander McRae led the way through the middle and Kyle O’Connor impressed on a wing.
Undersized defender Harry McLennan had the unenviable task of marking Demons coach Jordyn Burke.
Burke, who kicked four goals, said his side had its chance to win the game.
“We had the opportunity in the third quarter – we got a lot of footy inside 50 and didn’t capitalise and I think that hurt us,” he said.
“In and around the contested footy we just weren’t clean enough when we won it and that’s the difference.”
Burke said the performances of debutant Jack Mentha and second-gamer Sid Hernon were promising, while the Demons leaders stood tall.
Nick Pekin was brilliant in a head-to-head contest with Saints skipper McRae, coach Brad Hartigan was influential across half-back and through the middle, while Joel Geue excelled in unfamiliar territory and kept Saints full-forward Gavin Kelm to just one goal.
The Demons have lost their past two matches, but Burke said the side would focus on breaking that trend as soon as possible.
“Minyip-Murtoa’s now our main aim and we’ve got to make sure we get on the track and work on a few things,” he said.
“If it turns into three losses, all of a sudden you’re back into the pack and that double chance starts to go on the line.”