TWO sides that are likely to meet in the first week of finals will have the chance to learn a little bit more about each other on Saturday.
As the ladder sits Horsham and Warrack will face off in the qualifying final at Stawell in a little under a month.
Horsham coach Louie Dalziel and Eagles coach Ryan McKenzie both said they are looking forward to the challenge. “You want to head towards finals knowing that you have built good form against the best sides,” Dalziel said.
The second-placed Demons will certainly know where they stand after playing against each of the other top-four sides in the final three weeks. It will be an opportunity for the side to test its ability to move the ball more efficiently to score.
Dalziel said he had stats which show where his team had been getting shots from and it illustrated his side needed to better moving the ball forward. “We are still getting the opportunities to score but some of the choices could improve,” he said. “We’ve also continued to be good in the contest but need to sharpen up our work at clearances a little.”
Billie Lloyd will be rested as a precautionary measure after a heavy knock, while Alex Harfield, Darcy Taylor and John Wood are all in contention for senior games.
“Alex was probably a bit stiff to miss the previous week by our own admission but went back and did well in the reserves to put his hand up again,” Dalziel said.
The similar game styles of the two teams should make for a tough encounter which has the potential to go right down to the wire. When the two sides met in round seven it was a comfortable 44-point win for Horsham but McKenzie is confident his side can push the Demons this week.
“The last couple of weeks we have really been playing a good team-style of of footy,” he said. “Supporters have found it difficult to pick out best players and that is a good position to be in.”
While McKenzie will look to limit Horsham’s ability to score quickly, as it did during round seven, his continued focus is on helping his side be more effective going forward.
“Whether it’s the last kick into the forward 50 or the shots on goal themselves we need to better,” he said.
The Eagles have close to a full squad to pick from with only Brayden Walder unavailable while Shannon Argall is yet to return from injury. “Hopefully we’ll see Shannon back before finals,” McKenzie said. “We’re lucky with the position we’re in that we don’t have to rush him back and we will be able to manage his time in games when he comes back.”
Kyle George is also a chance to return to the senior side after making it through the side’s reserves fixture last round. He will face further tests before being declared available.