AN OPPORTUNITY to claim third place and a second chance in finals remains alive for the Horsham Saints after a nail-biting one-point round 17 win.
The Saints led by 17 points deep into the third quarter before conceding the final three goals of the game in the 6.8 (44) to 6.7 (43) win against the Warrack Eagles.
It was a first win for Saints coach Luke Fisher against the side in his two-year tenure.
“It’s a great way to get the monkey of the back,” he said.
“We’ve only lost one game here at Coughlin Park this season and that was by one point as well. It was good to just be able to hold on in the close game.”
A heavy westerly wind blowing across the ground did not favour either end but made conditions difficult from the outset as players took time to adjust.
Phil Butsch kicked the first of the game for the Saints after both sides had missed opportunities.
The away-side momentarily moved into the lead with its first goal before the Saints added two quick ones at the other end.
Missed opportunities were costly for Warrack Eagles as the side trailed 3.1 (19) to 1.4 (10) at the first break.
It was a goal each in the second quarter as the ball bounced around in between the 50-metre arcs.
Daniel Bell trots down the win for Warrack while taking a couple bounces but missed the shot at goal. It's the Saints winning 3.1 (19) to 1.4 (10) at quarter time. Missed opportunities proved costly in round 8, will they again today? #WimmeraFooty@AFL_WM— Stuart McGuckin (@s_mcguckin) August 18, 2018
Neither side could get an upper hand for sustained periods to build pressure with numbers behind the ball at each end.
Warrack Eagles trimmed the margin to four-points early in the third quarter before Jacob Cooke-Harrison hit back for the Saints.
Another goal stretched the margin to 19 points and the scoreboard did not change again until deep in the term.
Shannon Argall kicked two Warrack Eagles goals within a minute to close the gap to seven points at the final change.
Neither side scored at all during the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter.
Argall passed up a set-short opportunity before the ball made its way through a behind in the ensuing play.
Jack Wilson missed the lot after marking at the top of the away team’s goalsquare and, what was to be, the Saints only point of the quarter then stretched the margin beyond a kick again.
Dalton Jaensch kicked the only goal of the quarter at the 20-minute mark and Cook-Harrison subsequently failed to score from a set shot after the Saints won the centre clearance.
In a nervous final six minutes the ball opportunities were again scarce as the Saints played for territory and Warrack Eagles looked for any avenue to goal until the final siren sounded.
Fisher said that when Argall kicked his goals in the third quarter he thought it was a dangerous sign for his side.
“I was thinking here we go again because just like in the final last year he was clunking everything all over the ground,” he said.
“I was a little surprised when they didn’t throw him forward in the last quarter.”
He said it was difficult to pick standouts in an even team contribution.
“I liked Tom McDonald’s first game,” he said.
“He’s one that has been marked as a reserves player a bit in the past but he got his chance and took it today.
“We had five out from last week’s team and we stood up to get the job done.”