A TANTALISING race to the finals looms in two of the closest Wimmera and Horsham District football league seasons to date.
Horsham sits at the top of the table in Wimmera league competition, one game clear of Ararat. But the Rats and third-placed Southern Mallee Giants have gained momentum and form in the second half of the 2018 season so far, and loom as contenders for the minor premiership.
Wimmera league commissioner Trevor Albrecht said seven teams could realistically make the top five.
“Generally you have a fourth and fifth who are just filling in positions and will get knocked out in the first two weeks, but I don’t think that’s the case this year,” he said. “I think whichever team finishes in fifth could play off in the grand final.”
Mr Albrecht said league representatives were struggling to complete a draft for this year’s finals venues, because it was still too difficult to pick who would be playing. “I feel like it’s going to be topsy-turvy in amongst that group of seven until the last round,” he said.
Mr Albrecht said he thought the Demons versus Giants match this week could shake things up.
The Horsham District league is also experiencing a close season, with Harrow-Balmoral and Kalkee at the top of the ladder – the Southern Roos ahead on percentage – and Jeparit-Rainbow a game behind.
League chairman Graeme King said he thought the top three could change in the next few weeks. He also has a keen eye on sixth position, with the league having a top-six finals series for the third time this year.
“There’s about four teams chasing sixth spot,” he said.
Natimuk United holds sixth position currently, but Laharum, Rupanyup and Noradjuha-Quantong are all close behind.
“To have nine out of 11 clubs hoping for a chance to play in finals is exactly what the league would want,” Mr King said. “It gives clubs, supporters and players a bit of a spring in the step.”
Mr King said the difference between the Rams making finals for a second consecutive year could come down to injured coach Sam Anson returning to the oval, or whether his players could step up collectively in his absence. Mr King said Edenhope-Apsley gave the Kees a run for their money in round 12 and could surprise people come finals.