<![CDATA[Football - WMSport - Wimmera Mallee News]]> https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/wm-sport/football/feed.xml Fri, 19 Apr 2024 11:30:00 +1000 en-AU Copyright Wimmera Mallee News 2024 <![CDATA[Thunder ready for debut]]> bc5b2a0b-cae1-47e3-8df3-2460dee19b3c https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/thunder-ready-for-debut-2024-04-19 Fri, 19 Apr 2024 11:30:00 +1000 The Southern Mallee Thunder face the Warrack Eagles at Sir Robert Menzies Park in their debut match in the Wimmera Football Netball League in round one tomorrow.

Following the amalgamation between Jeparit Rainbow Storm and Southern Mallee Giants, the wait is finally here for the club and they are itching to get into the season.President Lucas Edelsten said everyone can't wait to begin.

"There is plenty of optimism getting around and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there," Edelsten said.

"Everyone has done a good job in making this as good as it can be and it's exciting and we are excited about what can happen this year."

The Eagles have brought back Matt Walder, their 2002 premiership coach and improvement is expected.

Kyle Cheney again returns to the team as well as five new exciting recruits from South Australia.

Jayke Hellmanns, Tyson Hunt, Jai Kovatseff, John Martin and Machok Garang are the five coming from South Australia.

Hellmanns is a big-bodied midfielder/forward, Kovatseff and Martin will bring grunt to the midfield, Hunt is a key back and Garang is an athletic ruckman.

Minyip Murtoa faces Nhill at the Minyip Recreation Reserve with two new coaches set to lead the respective teams. The Burra have brought in Gareth Hose whilst Nhill is excited about Jake McQueen leading the team.

Tim and Ben McIntyre have come across from Edenhope Apsley, Nick Cushing from Redan and Dusty Cross from Kangaroo Island, the latter playing under Hose when he coached Noradjuha Quantong.

Among Nhill's recruits are Daniel Batson from Robinvale-Euston in the Sunraysia League, Dylan Ridding from Gaza Eagles in the Adelaide League and Peter Politis from the Northern Territory.

Jake Harrap has returned to the club following a stint in South Australia. As a former best and fairest winner, he will slot back into the midfield.

McQueen has played VFL for Essendon and has had stints in the TAC Cup and Ovens and Murray League and is well credentialled to guide the senior team into their next journey.

Ararat will look to bounce back from their Good Friday loss against the Warriors when they host Horsham at Alexandra Oval.

The Demons have brought back Jordy Burke as coach.

Ryan Kemp has returned to the club and they have also secured Jasper and Harvey Gunn, Corey Williams and Hugo Papst. Matt Long has come to the club from South Bendigo and is a wingman/forward and durable four-time premiership player Bronson Durack is also new at the club.

The Horsham Saints host an improved Stawell in the match of the round at Coughlin Park.Nathan Koenig has come across from Natimuk United and will strengthen their forward line. Another strength in their forward line will be teenager Fredrick Frew from Pimpinio who has played plenty of senior football over the last two years and knows how to find the goals.

Alexander McRae, a former assistant coach has come back from Kalkee and will strengthen the backline.

Corey Morgan has come across from Minyip Murtoa and provides leadership and quality to a young midfield contingent ready to explode whilst Bailey Taylor is also making waves after coming across from Stawell.

Dimboola has the bye.

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<![CDATA[Demons eye first win since 2022]]> a40fdf7a-8a45-43b2-8173-676806008a2a https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/demons-eye-first-win-since-2022-2024-04-19 Fri, 19 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +1000 Laharum hosts Kalkee at Cameron Oval in what shapes to be the closest match of round two in the Horsham District Football Netball League.

The Demons showed round one they are not the 2023 Demons, narrowly losing to Pimpinio by eight points after leading at three-quarter time.

The new-look Demons under Shan Argall and Robbie Miller were a bit scratchy with their skills but showed a lot of improvement and will be extra motivated to win their first game at home in 2024 and will be better off from the hitout.

Pimpinio coach Guy Smith said that he was impressed at what he saw from the Demons.

"We knew that Laharum was going to be a great team. They are a good side and not the Laharum of old, that's for sure," Smith said.

Kalkee will look to bounce back following a convincing loss to the Swifts. The young team was able to kick 12 goals against one of the top sides of the competition and a repeat of that effort will go a long way to gaining victory.

Rupanyup opens their season in round two with a home game against Pimpinio. The Tigers will be buoyed by last week's win over Laharum but face a rampaging Panther outfit that has new additions highlighted by the return of Andy Phelan.

Phelan, a premiership player in 2022 with the Panthers rejoins along with Kane Timmins (Wandalla), Lachlan Holm (Stawell Warriors), Thomas Smith (West Gambier) and Bailey Rothall (Glencoe).

Rupanyup is expected to be one of the challengers to Harrow Balmoral this season so expect them to come out firing to make a statement.

The Tigers secured a tough win over Laharum last week and this will be a good test for their young side.

Edenhope Apsley returns home to face Noradjuha Quantong with both teams eyeing to get their first win on the board. The Saints were stunned by Taylors Lake last week whilst the Bombers put up a good effort against Harrow Balmoral.

Fresh off 11 goals against Kalkee, Swifts recruit Paul Summers will be looking to add to his tally when they host Kaniva Leeor at North Park.

The Cougars lost to Natimuk by 28 points last week and they get their longest road trip out of the way early.

Natimuk hosts Taylors Lake with both teams looking to start the season 2-0. For both teams, to say a win is important is an understatement.

The Lakers would equal the amount of wins they had last year and Natimuk, missing the finals last year with six wins, will be a third of the way there.

Harrow Balmoral has the bye.

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<![CDATA[Minyip Murtoa 2024 Season Preview]]> 5062dbaa-e9d3-4697-87b4-2cbb40a7f2b7 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/minyip-murtoa-2024-season-preview-2024-04-18 Thu, 18 Apr 2024 14:30:00 +1000 A look at Minyip Murtoa's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Chris Delahunty.

The biggest news for the Burras in the off-season was the coaching recruitment of Gareth Hose.

After a year off football having coached Noradjuha Quantong for five years, Hose comes to the club looking for success.

Hose said the club being family oriented drew him to the club.

"It was a good opportunity to coach in the WFNL and also when they approached me, I knew they were a good family club which suits myself and my family," Hose said.

"To be able to also work with another group of players who are ready to go to the next level was appealing as well."

When asked what he would bring to the club, he pointed out bolder ball movement.

"Since coming to the club structurally the team is well drilled defensively and I don't need to bring much on that front," Hose said.

"I will try to bring a bit more bolder ball movement and take the game on a bit more with our skills moving forward.

"We want to be strong in the contest and work hard to outnumber the opposition, and we have the team to be able to do that."

The Burra focused on strengthening the midfield in the offseason with Tim and Ben McIntyre coming across from Edenhope Apsley, Nick Cushing from Redan and Dusty Cross from Kangaroo Island, the latter playing under Hose at Noradjuha Quantong.

"The club spoke to me about what they wanted to strengthen and we have done that by bringing in a lot of experience and strength," Hose said.

Hose is also excited about the younger brigade, highlighted by Oscar Gawith.

"Gawith coming back from the Rebels as a 19-year-old is exciting. He is a good key position player down back and can also play up forward and have a stint in the midfield. He has a lot of talent and I am excited by what he can produce," Hose said.

"We also have some younger players that have impressed during pre-season as well in Wilson Mitchell, Seth Talbot, Brazer McKenzie, Lochlan McConnell and Will Gellatly.

"They will be pushing for selection this year and I am excited about what they can do when given the opportunity."

Minyip Murtoa open their campaign at home against Nhill.

NETBALLERS EYE IMPROVEMENT

Kirby Knight leads a strong netball contingent in her first year as senior coach, where she will coach A and B Grade.

Knight returns to the club following a stint with Learmonth where she won a premiership. Knight has coached juniors and C Grade before and is relishing the opportunity of coaching this season at a club she loves.

"It's a big opportunity for me and I am looking forward to coaching a great group of girls through both grades," Knight said.

"As a coach I want the players to enjoy themselves. If you have enjoyment off the court you will have it on the court and that leads to more success.

"I am going back to basics where you turn up each week and still enjoy yourselves and if the girls are doing that, we will see results across all grades."

There are a lot of new and returning faces for the Burra and there is some young talent coming up through the ranks.

Ash Rintoul and Tamika Mentha are back at the club. They also have four sisters playing - Claudia, Matilda, Johanna and Isabella Griffiths, which excites Knight.

Laura Schuckar, TJ Kerrins and Lauren Dodgshun are also some of the other players who are back.

Knight said the strength across both grades is going to be competitive and she is looking forward to it.

"We have a lot of young talent coming through and the competition for spots is healthy and I am looking forward to coaching these girls this season," Knight said.

"We have plenty of girls to watch out for and it's exciting.

"It's good to be back and I hope I can create success here."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Club president Chris Delahunty is at the helm of a football club that keeps improving.

"As a club, we just want to continue on the trajectory we are going to continue the improvement," Delahunty said.

"I am lucky I have a good committee around me and we will just keep making sure we field teams and improve facilities when we can."

"We have a bit of off-field things we are working through and we need to revisit our strategic plan which is due this year, and that is something we will focus on during the season."

Delahunty said numbers have been good through all grades, though the new rules about age limits will be a challenge to the club.

"Netball has been exceptional. Our A Grade coach, Kirby Knight, said they had 50 senior women to work through," Delahunty said.

"In football, our senior grades and our U11s have excellent numbers, however we are a bit light on in our U17s and U14s."

As for what he wants the club to achieve this year, Delahunty pointed out continued improvement.

"I just want us to participate well and play with good spirit and hopefully we can achieve finals in both football and netball," Delahunty said.

"We just want to get teams on the field and do our best and hopefully can get success along the way."

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<![CDATA[Horsham Demons 2024 Season Preview]]> 41c01591-dfdf-4bf2-b85e-3f7bb10541d3 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/horsham-demons-2024-season-preview-2024-04-18 Thu, 18 Apr 2024 12:30:00 +1000 A look at the Demons 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Ash Hopper.

Jordyn Burke is back at the club he coached a premiership to in 2014 and is excited to get back into it.

"I am looking forward to it. I didn't think I would be back this quick or at all, but circumstances led me here and it's been really enjoyable," Burke said.

"The club needed a little bit of direction with a nonplaying coach.

"Tyler Blake developed the team well and it may have been a tough year results-wise, but he was spot on with his development."

Jasper and Harvey Gunn are new to the club with Corey Williams and Hugo Papst.Matt Long has come to the club from South Bendio and is a wingman/forward and durable four-time premiership player Bronson Durack is also new at the club.

The biggest name, however, is the return of Ryan Kemp. Kemp, as a former Toohey medalist is important to the team.

"Ryan will play midfield/forward and we are looking to kick more goals and he is a good cog for us in that department," Burke said.

"We looked to stock our on-ball brigade with the faces we have coming into the club as well."

Burke said finals football will be good, but they know they need to be competitive consistently first and foremost.

"You always talk about finals footy and we don't shy away from the fact that we are coming from a long way back," Burke said.

"We just need to be competitive every week and if that means finals footy, so be it.

"We aim to be nice and quick and that will evolve over the year. We have some pace and I'd like to think we are fairly fit and we will build on that."

When asked about who is looking good to take the next step, Burke said there are a lot, but highlighted Ben Janetzki.

"Ben has stepped up in the pre-season, including his leadership after being vice-captain last year," Burke said.

"He is fit and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do amongst many others."

The Demons travel to Ararat to open their season.

NETBALLERS STRIVE TO GO ONE BETTER

After winning the premiership in 2022 and narrowly missing their defence last year, the Demons are looking strong in 2024 to reclaim their title under new coach Ebonie Salter.

Salter returned to the club last year as a player and has taken the role of the coach. Senior netball Director Alex Neale said they haven't gone out to 'head hunt' as such, and they got lucky with players coming over due to being partners of football players.

"We have some girls coming over from the HDFNL and they bring height, which is what we needed," Neale said.

"They have added to the depth of the senior group and they are versatile as well and a lot of our team can play at different positions, which is important.

"It allows Ebonie the opportunity to throw the team around when things aren't working out and gives her solid options."

Some of the new faces include Tahlia Thompson from Pimpinio, Britt Burns from Harrow Balmoral and Georgia Lowe from Noradjuha Qauntong.

Of the younger brigade, Neale said Imogen Worthy is set to take the next step this season.

"Under the guidance of the new players, I think Imogen and Tahlia will work together well in goals," Neale said.

"Romi Miller back in defence has been improving and with Ebonie and Britt back there, she will improve this year.

"Keely Pope missed a lot of netball last year with an ankle injury and she is fit and ready to go in her second season in A-Grade."

When asked what they need to improve on to win the premiership this year, Neale highlighted teamwork.

"Playing a team game. It's not only the seven players on the court but the ones on the bench as well," Neale said.

"Ebonie has been strong on one pass at a time, one play at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.

"If things don't go right in our passage of play, not to get caught up in the little things and being able to make adjustments as needed."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

President Ash Hopper is excited ahead of the season with both football and netball.

"Getting Jordy back as coach of the seniors is great for the club and we have a lot of numbers and are looking good on the senior football side of things," Hopper said.

"In the netball, we have Ebonie Salter as a coach and have brought in a few players and the netball is looking positive heading into the season."

Hopper is excited at the fact they get to play netball at home again.

"To get back to the City Oval and play on those new netball courts is exciting," Hopper said.

"The courts look good and the feedback from everyone is positive. The netball courts look brilliant and light up well."

The City Oval has also got an upgrade on lighting which will help for the Anzac Day twilight match and any night games the club may play in the future.

"We are now waiting on the last piece of the puzzle with the change rooms and hoping things can progress there soon," Hopper concluded.

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<![CDATA[Horsham Saints 2024 Season Preview]]> 1ab6e076-cbf3-45fe-adbd-bfec9ab163af https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/horsham-saints-2024-season-preview-2024-04-18 Thu, 18 Apr 2024 10:20:00 +1000 A look at Horsham Saints 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Scott Bond.

After showing massive improvement last year to make the preliminary finals, the Horsham Saints are aiming to go better and have recruited well with that goal in mind.

They have recruited a mixture of youth and experience with every player capable of playing an important role in the team.

Nathan Koenig has come across from Natimuk United and will strengthen their forward line.

Another strength in their forward line will be teenager Fredrick Frew from Pimpinio who has played plenty of senior football over the last two years and knows how to find the goals.

Alexander McRae, a former assistant coach has come back from Kalkee and will strengthen the backline.

Corey Morgan has come across from Minyip Murtoa and provides leadership and quality to a young midfield contingent ready to explode.

Bailey Taylor is also making waves coming across from Stawell. Looking fit and boasting a beautiful kick, he has been showing in training how well he uses the football and will play out of the backline, a new area for him.

League-leading goalkicker from 2023 Mitch Martin will have a similar role to last year and with natural improvement can take his game to the next level.

Ben Knott is excited to coach a young team that is ready to take the next step.

"We are still sort of on this upward trajectory with our age group and getting games into younger players," Knott said.

"If we can keep these young players together for several years, then we are looking healthy as a football club and can contend for a while."

When asked if they will have a similar style to last year, Martin said they will attack more but with Gary Davidson coming on board from Pimpinio, will also add a more defensive mindset to the team.

"As an experienced campaigner, Gary has a bit more of a defensive mindset, so his experience will play a vital role," Knott said.

Knott knows they need to work harder and be more consistent if they are to be up there this year knowing the league is very even this year.

"We are under no illusions about how tough the competition is this year. You have to play at your best every week," Knott said.

With a young team comes plenty of improvement and when asked who is looking good, he said the entire team can improve and also highlighted Judd Wright.

"You can put a blanket over a lot of the youngsters. Everyone has so much improvement in them," Knott said.

"A lot of them are going to put their best foot forward. Some guys last year on the fringe have been looking good and are ready to take the next step.

"Judd Wright, who has played predominantly as a forward last year and has been in and out of the team a little bit is looking good. He has good height and he is athletic so he is good on the ground and in the year."

Horsham Saints open their season with a home game against Stawell.

NETBALLERS EYE BACK TO BACK PREMIERSHIPS

In what is a scary proposition for opposing teams, the Horsham Saints senior netball team hasn't changed much at all and is in a strong place to defend their premiership from 2023.

Co-coached by Jess Cannane and Elly Barnett, they have a lot of young talent coming through the ranks such as U17 players Maddison Bethune and Cara Tippet, as well as Taya Quick coming from Natimuk.

The other big news is Jorja Clode will be able to play every game and is only growing as a player having nearly made the state team in the off-season and being named a training partner for the Bendigo Strikers Under-23 netball team.

Cannane is excited to be part of a strong group again and is looking forward to getting out there.

"It's a really exciting time only being a few days out from round one. We have been training since the end of last year and it will be nice to get back into it," Cannane said.

The Saints are the benchmark this season and Cannane is confident they can win again.

"The last couple of seasons it has been us and Horsham Demons and I don't see that changing too much," Cannane said.

"There has been movement across other decent sides so it's hard to tell who is going to be up there, so we will see how everything goes when everyone gets on the court."

When asked who is looking good and ready to take the next step this year, Cannane mentioned Maddison Bethune.

"Maddison will play an increased role in our side this season," Cannane said.

"She has plenty of exposure representing the WFNL teams and being able to play against quality under-17s has helped her netball.

"She is getting stronger in the pre-season and will be great down our defensive end."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Scott Bond is excited for the club this year in both football and netball.

"With football, we are very pleased with the response we are getting with turnouts," Bond said.

"We have a couple of big outs this year but we have some good ins and will still be competitive and I am looking forward to what the boys can deliver.

"Ben is a good coach and it was good to see him get recognised as coach of the year last year and for us to get named club of the year, for the first time, was very pleasing as well."

"In the netball, the girls just keep delivering every year. They utilise their juniors well and have done well in recruiting some senior players as well and hopefully, they can go back-to-back."

Bond said the Saints Lotto has been huge for the club and is going from strength to strength.

"It looks after our sponsors and the club members are enthused about it and it gets a lot of buzz," Bond said.

"The guys that run it do a good job and it's reflected in the numbers we get."In terms of junior football, with the new rules affecting most clubs, Bond is happy to help out where they can.

"Our kids are unreal. It's good to see a lot of kids go out to support district league clubs and other clubs," Bond said.

"We will continue to support other clubs when we can."

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<![CDATA[Nhill 2024 Season Preview]]> e408d889-4ceb-42e2-88ce-bb9e88a03a94 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/nhill-2024-season-preview-2024-04-18 Thu, 18 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +1000 A look at Nhill's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Rob Bell.

Nhill signed Jake McQueen as coach for the upcoming season and is excited about what he is already bringing to the team.

McQueen has played VFL for Essendon, and has had stints in the TAC Cup and Ovens and Murray League and is well credentialled to guide the senior team into their next journey.

Among Nhill's recruits are Daniel Batson from Robinvale-Euston in the Sunraysia league, Dylan Ridding from Gaza Eagles in the Adelaide League and Peter Politis from the Northern Territory.

Jake Harrap has returned to the club following a stint in South Australia. As a former best and fairest winner, he will slot back into the midfield.

"We realised we were young and small and we went out to recruit some wise heads and taller players," McQueen said.

"Everyone we have brought in will cover those areas and our midfield has strengthened a lot."

"In regards to game style, we are not changing it too much. We will tweak it and refine it a bit, but we aim to be quick and nimble whilst adding a lot of defensive pressure."

"We don't want to go 100 miles an hour all the time. We need to slow the game down a bit and control it more."

When asked what the expectations are and what he brings to the team, McQueen was quick to point out there are no expectations.

"We are a young group and they are eager to get out there and I am placing no expectations on them," McQueen said.

"The main thing I bring to the team is more professionalism and want to get that enjoyment there.

"They are a good group of players and are eager to learn and that is what you want as a coach."

McQueen pointed out Jarryd Dahlenberg as a player to watch this season.

"Jarryd has had a ripper of a pre-season and I believe it will be a breakout season for him. He is going to be very important through the midfield and off halfback and I am looking forward to seeing him in action," McQueen said.

"As for a younger player, Bronte Hiscock has put his name up there as a small forward."

Nhill travel to Minyip Murtoa to open their season.

NETBALLERS LOOK TO IMPROVE ON 2023

Tracey Bell and Emma Hawker are co-coaching the A Grade this year and after making finals last year, they are looking forward to seeing how the team improves this year.

Ellen Bennett and Larnie Hobbs are returning and Claudia Mcrae is coming back from a knee reconstruction.

Courtney Hillier is a new face and Elly Schumann from Jeparit Rainbow is also a new face who will be strong in defence.

Tracey Bell says that they all bring a lot to the team.

"I think that all of those girls are strong team players and have good netball brains," Bell said.

"They have a lot of good ideas for the team and are great communicators and bring some great leadership."

Bell doesn't have high expectations this season and whilst they want to play finals again, team cohesion is a big focus.

"The main focus is to focus on the team and team cohesion and making sure the girls are really enjoying the game and playing consistently each week," Bell said.

"Ultimately our long-term goal is to make finals and go deeper than last year, as with a lot of other clubs, but if the girls are enjoying the game and working well together, that will take care of itself."

When asked what the key strength is this year, Bell mentioned the on-court leadership.

"Our strength is the on-court leadership with a more experienced team. That and versatility is our strength this year and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes," Bell said.

Bell is excited about Ruby James this year, having scored 247 goals last year.

"Ruby is the youngest player in our A Grade side and she has been looking great during training," Bell said.

"She has good support around her and I think she will gain a lot of confidence from her teammates.

"I am hoping she can string a nice consistent season together this year. She was our main and most accurate goalie last season so I am hoping she can strive and push forward this year and dominate in the goal ring."

Bell would also like to point out that whilst the numbers are looking good they always welcome new players and have a nice group of girls.

"We will always welcome new and returning players because as the season goes on, there are usually injuries and illness, so it's always good to have more numbers," Bell said.

"We have a nice group here. They are locals and they are not only supporting our local club but also the community and that is a strength of ours.

"They are happy to give back to the community that they live and work in."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

President Rob Bell is impressed with how new coach Jake McQueen has handled pre-season.

"Jake was on our radar for a couple of years and we were planning towards him and as a first-year coach he is impressing us, we are very happy with him," Bell said.

"He has a good support group around him with Jaye Macumber and David Flood, and we like what he is bringing to the team."

In netball, Emma Hawker and Tracey Bell are co-coaches and Bell likes what he sees.

"We have gained a few players and past players have come back which is great to see," Bell said.

"The girls are excited about the coming season."

Bell said they are lucky enough to be able to field a side in every grade, but with the new rules, it may affect them.

Off-field, they are celebrating their success in the 1960's. There will be a premiership reunion for senior football from 1964, 1965 and 1969 whilst the 1967 reserves premiership will also be celebrated.

They have also secured funding to help improve facilities and Bell said it is an exciting time.

"It will be good to get some of those guys back at the club from the 60s. It is going to be a big day which will be celebrated on July 20," Bell said.

"We have also finally got funding to build our change rooms and grandstand seating which will involve a timekeepers box, media box and change rooms and that will go out to tender this year.

"We will then hopefully build during the season and hopefully get it finished in time for the 2025 season, so there is a lot to look forward to at Davis Park."

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<![CDATA[Warrack Eagles 2024 Season Preview]]> 0cf12158-d5af-44ab-a37c-5f481ee11562 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/warrack-eagles-2024-season-preview-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 16:40:00 +1000 A look at Warrack Eagles 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Paul Rowe.

The Eagles have not only brought on a strong coach in Matt Walder, the last person to coach them to a premiership back in 2002, but have recruited well to improve and move forward as a club after a dire few years.

Walder is excited about the improvement he has seen in the pre-season.

"I am glad the pre-season has finally come to an end and we can get stuck into the season," Walder said.

"From where Warrack is coming from and where we are getting to, it's really exciting to see how quick the improvement has come.

"The players are making an impression with a new style of play and I have implemented trademarks and standards at training to close the gap and the players have responded well."

Kyle Cheney again returns to the team as well as five new exciting recruits from South Australia.

Jayke Hellmanns, Tyson Hunt, Jai Kovatseff, John Martin and Machok Garang are the five coming from South Australia.

Hellmanns is a big-bodied midfielder/forward, Kovatseff and Martin will bring grunt to the midfield, Hunt is a key back and Garang is an athletic ruckman.

"They all provide a bit of size and experience and are important in that regard," Walder said.

"They are excited and itching to get into it."

When asked who is impressing, Walder pointed out Declan Powell and Connor Inkster.

"Through their fitness, engagement and roles they are going to play, they have been really solid and spot on," Walder said.

"They are at an age now where they are ready to take the next step and launch into the WFNL as consistent footballers."

The Eagles open their season at home to the Southern Mallee Thunder.

NETBALL YOUTH EXCITES EAGLES

Leiah McKenzie has stepped into coaching for the first time this year and is excited to co-coach with Jess Erhardt who has been around the club a long time and is coaching the U17s.

"It's huge having Jess's support as I don't think I would have done it solo," McKenzie said.

"She is firey, has good netball knowledge and is very passionate."

When asked why she decided to coach, McKenzie said she is just very passionate about the club.

"I am passionate not only about the club but also country sport as well," McKenzie said.

"I came back and decided to get involved and the numbers are great and I thought it would be a great opportunity."

The Eagles haven't gone out and recruited hard, but rather are focusing on developing the juniors with some ready to step up.

"We have a few juniors which has given us depth and we also have Nicola Clyne returning this year which is great to see," McKenzie said.

"Training partners in the U17 in Ava Koschitzke, Satine Malcolm and Lauren Clyne are stepping up and adding speed to a new game style to A-Grade.

"Isabella Orszulak and Amber O'Connor have also stepped up and improved."

"We just want to start to strengthen our side with these young girls and hopefully get a few more wins and play some clean and nice-looking netball."

When asked which ones she believes will take their game to the next level this season, McKenzie said it's hard to call but highlighted Koschitzke and O'Connor as having good pre-seasons.

"Ava Koschitzke is going to be a netballer of the future and we are excited to have her here," McKenzie said.

"It's a developing year for her and she is looking really strong and has a good pre-season.

"Amber O'Connor is getting stronger and stronger and is looking good and it's exciting to see."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Warrack Eagles president Paul Rowe is excited about what the club can do this year on the field.

"We have great numbers on the track now and the enthusiasm under Matthew has been really good," Rowe said.

"We have an experienced coach with a lot of specialism and structure. He has his own goals and targets that he wants the club to meet and it's all about structure and improvement.

"We want to be competitive across all grades and hopefully we are this season."

"As for the netball, things are really good and we have plenty of numbers. There are a few new faces in the coaching roles and the club is excited."

Like many other clubs, junior numbers could be a problem but Rowe believes they should be able to manage it.

"I think we will be able to manage the age groups within what we have," Rowe said.

"I believe we can work around it. We can't change it, we have to work with it and I think we will be able to.

"It's a shame the way the AFL is pushing. They don't realise what it is doing to do to country footy."

Off the field, Rowe pointed out Eagle Lotto, which has been successful for the club.

"We are continuing to run Eagle Lotto as it has been successful for the club by bringing a lot of people in and getting them involved," Rowe said.

"Our social calendar is also looking good and it keeps people involved.

"Overall, things are looking great for the club and it's exciting what we could do this year."

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<![CDATA[Dimboola 2024 Season Preview]]> 106b407e-a4e8-4d2a-b840-5bcbefb0ff04 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/dimboola-2024-season-preview-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 14:40:00 +1000 A look at Dimboola's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Hayden Eldridge.

The Roos are on the hunt for the premiership this year under Jack Landt and with the names they have brought in, they could very well be there at the end of the season.

Andrew Moore comes as the biggest recruit they have had in a long time. Moore offers a lot of experience being in the AFL for ten years, playing for Port Adelaide and Richmond.

Recently he played for West Adelaide in the SANFL and is coming to Dimboola as not only an important cog in the midfield but also off-field leadership for Jack Landt and Ben Miller.

Jackson Calder is another big recruit that will sit in the forward line at six foot four and Landt has played with him in the past.

Calder recently played for Mornington where he kicked 43 goals in 2023 and 44 in 2024. Recently, he kicked 72 goals for St Marys in the Northern Territory.

Pat McDonough comes across as a key back/ruck from PEGS in the VAFA, as well as Ben Brett as an elusive half-forward/midfielder from Pint in the NTFL. Brett has a good left foot on him and kicks a lot of goals.

Landt is also hopeful that Mitchell O'Donnell may play a few games this year after being troubled by injuries the last couple of years.

The other big news is Dylan Landt is also returning after having an outstanding season in the NTFL over the summer. Landt secured back-to-back TIO NTFL Men's Premier League highest individual honour, the Nichols Medal for the league's best and fairest.

Jack Landt said that their game style is going to change a bit.

"We have developed an offensive style of game the last few years which has worked well at times, but hasn't worked well at other times," Landt said.

"We are going to try and set up our defenders better with the way we move. Hopefully, we can move the ball well and defend it with the ball in hand and tighten up the screws in the backline."

Landt is also impressed with some juniors that are looking good.

"Alex Jakiel has worked hard over the summer and played well in our practice match and he will play a lot of football for us this year," Landt said.

"Patty Clark is another one as an 18-year-old. He has played two seasons and is ready to step up in the midfield and with experienced players around him, I am excited to see what he can do.

"Finally, Archer Laverty as a 16-year-old has a body for senior football. He has played in the practice matches and is likely to start in the team at the beginning of the year. He can play multiple positions and is strong and clean and will be a good footballer for Dimboola."

Dimboola has the bye in round one and will play Nhill in round two.

NETBALLERS AIM TO GO ONE BETTER

Ashlee Morrish coaches a Dimboola team this year that made the preliminary final for the first time since the 1960's in 2023.

Morrish has been playing at the club for two years and takes over from co-coaches Nicole Polycarpou and Ant Toet.

The Roos have recruited Bridgette Dorringon, a defender and a midcourt player and goalie Maddie Marra, both coming over from Jeparit Rainbow Storm.

The only loss from last year's team is Holly Ross who moved over to play for Pimpinio.Morrish is excited for the season.

"The numbers are looking exceptionally good. It gives us a lot to choose from and lots of versatility which can be both a blessing and a worry," Morrish said.

"Some new faces bring some pace and strength to the team, add depth and versatility to our squads and have been training well."

Morrish is also excited about the juniors.

"I'm hoping the juniors can continue to elevate their game and continue to develop," Morrish said.

"Indy Ward played her first A Grade game last season and is still eligible for U17's and is showing form during the pre-season."

After tasting finals last year and falling short of a grand final berth, Morrish has identified what they need to do to improve.

"I think we need to refine some of the basics, reduce some of the little mistakes and capitalise on turnovers."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dimboola president Hayden Eldridge is looking forward to his first year as president.With improvement expected on both the football field and netball courts, he is excited about what the club can achieve this year.

"Our A-Grade netballers did well last year to make a prelim since 1965 and if they can improve and get one step closer, it will be great," Eldridge said.

"We have worked hard for 10 years in netball in recruiting and changing things up and it is paying dividends.

"In football, it would be good to have a premiership. We have a lot of numbers at training and we hope the reserves can be a bit more competitive and hopefully have guys knocking on the door playing seniors."

Eldridge said that whilst the numbers are good for senior football, they will struggle with juniors due to the new ruling.

"We probably won't have full sides for football and that ruling will hurt us," Eldridge said.

"We are working at it and trying to resolve it the best we can and work out a good way for the kids to get on the park."

Off the field this year the club has the 2014 Reserves reunion and also a life members dinner mid-year. Eldridge also wants to give back to their sponsors a bit more.

"No date has been set for the reunion yet but this year we want to give back to our sponsors more and promote them," Eldridge said.

"We have a brand new scoreboard that has been put up which will advertise major sponsors and smaller sponsors and they will be mentioned throughout the season.

"We will also hold a sponsor day which will give them something back and thanks for supporting us. Without sponsors we wouldn't be around, so we can't thank them enough."

]]>
<![CDATA[Stawell 2024 Season Preview]]> d513593d-2392-4c45-86f6-9db0e3aee6d2 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/stawell-2024-season-preview-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:15:00 +1000 A look at Stawell's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Shane Field.

Stawell defeated Ararat on Good Friday and when you look at their team in 2024, you can see why.

Coached by Tom Eckel for another season, Stawell has brought in some good recruits who filled holes in their team and it showed on Good Friday.

Mitch Taylor has come to the club from Darwin as a key defender, a position the club identified they needed to fill.

Cody Driscoll came back to the club and as a two-time leading goal kicker in the WFNL, he has made a good start to be a third by kicking four goals against Ararat.

Ash Driscoll is coming to the club from Navarre and has been a four-time premiership player and a leading goalkicker. He also brings leadership as he has been a senior coach.

Josh Fowkes has come over as a ruckman from Maryborough and is a two-time league medalist. He showed on Good Friday how important he is in the ruck.

Jacob Welsh is also the other big-name recruit, having played the bulk of his career for St Marys in the Geelong Football League, captaining the side to a premiership in 2019.

James Sullivan, who kicked two goals on Good Friday has played for Tarura in the Goulburn Valley League and also played some games for Box Hill Hawks in the VFL.

Tom Eckel said they want to go as far as they can this year and he believes they have the team to do that.

"We want to go as deep as we can and we have a good enough team to make finals," Eckel said.

"If we make finals then we can look further, but finals is realistic, though it is going to be tough to get there.

"I feel like the league gets harder and harder each year and it's a strong competition - the strongest it's ever been."

"We want to be consistent for the first four to six weeks of the season and build on the back end."

Eckel said they have worked on a lot of things, but the key things they worked on were evident in their Good Friday match.

"We want to be strong around the contest and bring a fast brand of football," Eckel said.

"We have a bit of youth and we are very fit at the moment so hopefully we can play a fast exciting brand and take the next step."

STRENGTHENED NETBALLERS AIM FOR FINALS

On Good Friday the netballers showed what they will be like this year under co-coaches Jemma Clarkson and Rachel Wood.

The 26-point win is just the tip of the iceberg in a Stawell team that is buoyed by some new and familiar faces.

Madi Taylor is back at the club after a year off from school having played all her juniors there. Rachel Wood is coming back from Navarre and agreed to coach when asked.

Sisters Rita and Sophie Dyer have come to the club as well as Jade Allen and Amber Taylor.

Jemma Clarkson said the club is looking strong for 2024 across all grades.

"We are striving for four strong senior teams and making finals this year," Clarkson said.

"Our A Grade finished third last year and we want to build on that and maintain that level all year.

"You always aim to be in the big dance and we have a realistic goal of making finals and then seeing what we can do from there."

Clarkson said it is great to coach a group she describes as "A great bunch of girls."

"It's nice to coach alongside Rachel this year," Clarkson said.

"Everyone has put in a lot of time over the pre-season and the girls are great to coach and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this season."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

In his third year as president, Shane Field has a huge year ahead with the club celebrating 150 years on April 27.

"The celebrations will be held at our first home game against Minyip-Murtoa and it will be the first game at Central Park since last June," Field said.

"It will be a big day for the football club with a lot of ex-players coming that haven't been at the club for a long time, so it will be like a reunion for every decade."

The club has also opened its new clubrooms.

"The new clubrooms are now open which provide accessibility for everyone, so it is exciting to use them on game day for the first time in Round two," Field said.

On the field, the Warriors are looking good and Field said they have filled holes in the off-season and the squads are looking stronger.

"We went out to target players to fill holes and have done that. We have recruited well in both football and netball and it's exciting to see what they produce this year."

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<![CDATA[Southern Mallee Thunder 2024 Season Preview]]> 3f7b54e2-90f0-4642-83b7-77cd5f13a7bd https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/southern-mallee-thunder-2024-season-preview-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 10:30:00 +1000 A look at the Thunder's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Lucas Edelsten.

The Southern Mallee Thunder enter the 2024 season as a bit of an unknown quantity following the amalgamation between Jeparit Rainbow Storm and Southern Mallee Giants.

Some of the returning players from the Giants are Rupert Sangster, Jack Garvey, Billy Lloyd, Angus McSweyn and Liam Nelson and from the Thunder, Nick Yarran, Tommy Clarke, Trent Burgoyne, Xavier Oakley, Peter Weir.

In his second year as coach, having coached the Giants last year, Kieran Delahunty has been impressed with some of the new faces he has seen.

He has noticed some of the younger players such as Xavier Oakley, Tom Schumann, Jakob Cocks and Matthew Thomas and is impressed by what they have shown on the training track in the pre-season.

"Xavier Oakley has stood out on the track. He has had a big pre-season this year," Delahunty said.

"He is a strong runner and is impressive with pace and endurance and is certainly capable of taking his game to the next level this season."

Delahunty also said that some of the younger ones are also impressing on the track.

"Will Fisher and Lenny Weir as teenagers are impressing during the pre-season and depending on what the rules are with exemptions, may find some senior football this year," Delahunty said.

The Thunder will adopt a similar game style to the Giants last season, but will tweak it with the new additions.

"Our game style last year had us in pretty good stead. We had a solid backline and there is room for improvement," Delahunty said.

"Having lost Josh Webster and Josh Bromley Lynch up forward, we will adapt with Peter Weir there as well as Nick Yarran and Tom Clarke adding pace.

"The ball movement we will just aim to do the same thing. Hopefully, we can win a few stoppages and clearances and give them the best chance fo one-on-ones and having shots on goal."

There will be experimentation in the early stages, and Delahunty is eyeing finals.

"Finals is definitely what we are aiming for, but we just need to build those relationships early and have been doing that well in pre-season games," Delahunty said.

"We are still getting to know each other, but with the talent we have at the club, things are exciting."

NETBALLERS EXCITED FOR NEW SEASON

The Thunder netballers are gearing up for a massive season with a lot of players sticking around from both teams last year as well as a few recruits.

The A-Grade is coached by Jodie Hayes, a Heather Hatcher Medalist and Steph Thomson, a premiership player and 2023 WFNL goal attack of the year.

Jaimee O'Reilly returns after playing for the Giants since 2022. She is also coaching the C Grade side. Mackenzie Bellinger is also returning from the Giants.

Jaida Baldwin-Monk is another Giant who is keen to stay. The defender was the joint runner-up in the best and fairest for the Giants B Grade side last year.

Alongside returning players come recruits, some of whom will be familiar to the former Storm side of the club.

Gabbi Rule has moved over from Birchip-Watchem in the NCNL and Connie Rule has signed and is a defender but is versatile and can play any position on the wing.

Caitlin Douglas will be traveling from Adelaide every week to play for the Thunder. Douglas is a two-time premiership player and can play at both ends of the court as a GD or GA.

Abby White is also returning after a stint in Ballarat in 2023.

Alongside familiar faces come new faces highlighted by Sydney Thorogood.

Thorogood joins the club from Nhill in a big coup for the Thunder. She can play both ends, either as a GK or GS.

Jade Cranage has also signed and will provide flair on the wing. She is looking getting to back into netball having not played for a few years.

Steph Thomson is pleased with the versatility they have this year.

"We are more versatile and have taller players which is lovely. It was a bit of a struggle towards the end of last year, but following the merger, everything is looking really good. There is a good vibe" Thomson said.

"We have players that can play both ends and each week will be different with the matchups. Sydney and Abby are tall and Caitlin can shoot and defend."

Thomson said they want to play the best netball they can.

"We want to have success. Everyone aims for finals and it would be great to play finals," Thomson said.

"We got there a couple of years ago and with new faces and a lot of enthusiasm around the place, I am excited to see where we can get to this year."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Lucas Edelsten will lead the Thunder into their new era and he is excited about what the club can achieve this year as a whole.

"There is plenty of optimism getting around with the season nearly here and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there," Edelsten said.

"There is a big following this year obviously with four towns coming together with two of the bigger clubs in the district.

"Everyone has jumped on board and the excitement is huge around the club."

The Thunder will be able to field every grade in both football and netball this year. Last year the Giants didn't have a U17 team and the Storm just had enough numbers, and neither team fielded a C-Reserve in netball.

It is yet to be clear what the rule changes regarding age limits in juniors will do to the club with most clubs finding things difficult.

Edelsten would like to thank everyone for making it a smooth transition.

"Everyone has done a good job in making this as good as it can be," Edelsten said.

"It is exciting and we are excited about what can happen this year.

"I would also like to thank the sponsors for coming on board and I hope it's a great year for the club."

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<![CDATA[Demons power to victory]]> 7e28c184-86fc-4d83-ba99-c8df85c1b5df https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/demons-power-to-victory-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 09:30:00 +1000 Shannon Cross led the charge with four goals as the Demons women's football team secured an impressive 66-point victory over the Warrnambool Blues, marking a promising start to their season in the 2024 Western Victoria Female Football League.

In a tightly contested match early on, the Demons managed to secure a slim lead with the only goal of the first quarter. However, they quickly found their rhythm, dominating the second quarter by kicking four goals while keeping their opponents scoreless.

This commanding performance allowed them to enter halftime with a formidable 32-point lead.

The Demons continued their dominance in the second half, staging a procession in the final quarter to secure a comprehensive 10.7.67 to 0.1.1 victory. Goals were shared amongst the team, with Lauren Hawkins, Vanilla Ika, Tash Mustafa, Tatiarna Nelson, Hailey Puls, and Abby Ward all making significant contributions to the scoreboard.

Holly Nuske stood out as best on ground. Nuske's standout performance follows her impressive display on the netball court the day before for Noradjuha Quantong against Harrow Balmoral. Crystal Summers and Catherine O'Dea also distinguished themselves as key players for the Demons.

In an earlier match, the under-18 Demons girls faced a tough challenge against the Terang Mortlake Bloods, ultimately falling short by 15 points. Despite a valiant effort, the Demons struggled to gain momentum, with the Bloods maintaining control throughout the game.

Greta Arnel was recognised as the best player for the Demons, with Amaya Woodward, Violet McGennisken, and Scarlett Abbott contributing goals.

Looking ahead, the under-18s will have a bye this weekend, providing an opportunity for regrouping. Meanwhile, the senior women's team will hit the road to Pedrina Park for their next match against Hamilton, aiming to build on their early success.

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<![CDATA[Ararat 2024 Season Preview]]> a7422a2b-c55e-4c7e-beee-f52979ce7e94 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/ararat-2024-season-preview-2024-04-17 Wed, 17 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 A look at Ararat's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President David Hosking.

Having already played on Good Friday against Stawell, the new look Ararat team was on display, in the 14-point-loss.

Tex Korewha and Ben Taylor have departed the club, but they have brought back Sam Cronin and Xav Vearing whilst a new face is Ben McKenzie from Watsonia in the Northern Football Netball League in Melbourne.

With the bulk of the 2023 premiership team remaining, Tom Mills, who is co-coaching with Tom Williamson said that having a connection already there with a lot of the team has made things easier in pre-season.

"Most of the players are good mates and we have a good connection with them and everyone has fit in well, Mills said.

When asked who is going to take his game to the next level this year, Mills was confident about teenager Sonny Kettle.

Kettle showed signs last year in the midfield and forward line and Mills said he has trained hard all pre-season and is raring to go.

"Sonny is going to be a really good player. He will be playing mainly centre this year and he has put on 5kg of muscle and is fit," Mills said.

Despite the loss on Good Friday, Ararat is still going to be one of the teams to beat this year.

The Rats host Horsham this week.

NETBALLERS LOOK FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Ararat netballers are a young team this year and improvement is their aim in 2024.

Sally Noble has returned following a long stint coaching at Sebastopol, where she coached the team to many finals and she is looking forward to elevating Ararat to the next level.

Two juniors have been brought up, Sophie Cooper and Demi Bligh and they have been training well.

In the Good Friday match, both showed they will be good for the Rats this year.Noble said the aim is to achieve finals and then see what happens.

"You always want to achieve finals and at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is a premiership and we believe we can improve enough this year to make finals," Noble said.

"We have a young team, and it is about getting that confidence up and working on that."Noble said they have focused on three things this pre-season.

"We want strong line defense and working on easy fast exit through the midcourt and goal accuracy," Noble said.

"We are bonding and getting to know each other and the belief is there. We just have to now take it out onto the court.

"My motto for them this year is 'work smarter, not harder' and they are taking that on board."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

When Ararat lost coach Matt Walder, they looked externally and internally for a coach and club president David Hosking said appointing Tom Williamson and Tom Mills as co-coach made a lot of sense for the club.

"With Tom Mills being an ex-VFL player and Tom Williamson, ex-AFL, and already playing in our system, we thought they would be a good fit," Hosking said.

"They both have high football IQs and both know the game and can articulate it and explain it to the young players.

"They also have respect of the players which is very important also so for us it wasn't a hard decision. We had two obvious coaches within our midst, signed them up and all the indications so far is that they are doing a good job."

On the Netball, they identified height and depth as the important thing and Hosking said they were just stagnating and something had to change.

"Without being too critical, it is probably fair to say that we had stagnated and finished mid-table for a few years in A-Grade," Hosking said.

"We were undersized and needed to add height and depth and we have done that. Our numbers are great in netball and we can field a C Reserve grade, something we haven't been able to do.

"The other two grades and juniors have been in finals, and we were looking to get a little bit better in A Grade and it has been an incremental change and hopefully having Sally in we will be able to shoot more goals."

"It is great to have Sally back. She is a former A Grade player and has a thorough knowledge of netball and hopefully, she can help us improve."

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<![CDATA[Pimpinio defeat improved Laharum]]> 149a3fae-2655-4b13-8fb6-87daec7a2a53 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/pimpinio-defeat-improved-laharum-2024-04-16 Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 Pimpinio defeated Laharum by eight points in a close contest at Pimpinio Sporting Complex to kick off the Horsham District Football Netball League season.

In a close first quarter, neither team gave an inch as the Tigers took a slender two- point lead into quarter time. They extended that margin to six at halftime.

The Demons had a brilliant third quarter kicking three goals to one to take a five-point lead into three-quarter time and were looking good to secure their first win since the 2022 season.

They fought hard in the last, but the Tigers were solid, running out 9.11.65 to 8.9.57 winners.

Nick Groves kicked four goals for the Tigers whilst midfielders Dylan Bates and Dylan Thomas were brilliant all day.

For Laharum, Daniel Easson and Robbie Miller both kicked two whilst Pat Lattanzio has started well, showing his class and capability of taking the next step in his football career in 2024.

Tigers coach Guy Smith said it was a tough match and praised Laharum for their performance.

"We knew that Laharum was going to be a great team. They are a good side and not the Laharum of old, that's for sure," Smith said.

We watched them play in a practice match the week before and we knew we had to play good football to win. They came to play. It was a real arm wrestle and they tested us.

"We made some errors in that third quarter in regards to decision making which got Laharum back into the game which was frustrating."

"Our players were desperate to make amends in the last and get back on top of the game and they did. It was a good win and they did it professionally."

Smith praised Bates, Thomas and Mackay Baker after the game.

"Whilst everyone can be proud of their performance, Dylan Bates and Dylan Thomas played exceptionally well through the midfield and up forward," Smith said.

"Dylan Thomas is just a stopping-style player and locks other midfielders down. His tackling pressure is the best at our club and that's why he was rewarded that medal.

"Dylan Bates's explosive power and agility are second to none and no one can keep up with him. It's fantastic for us."

"Mackay Baker in the ruck was brilliant. He played against someone older and more experienced and he had a really solid game and got first hands on the ball a lot."

Laharum coach Shan Argall said they are getting there and even though they lost, is proud of the boys for the improvement they have shown.

"We are getting there slowly and it was a demonstration of our growth a bit more," Argall said.

"The message I told the boys after the match was that we are incredibly proud and a loss hurts and so it should. You have your ups and downs and it is about what you do next and we spoke about that.

"We took big steps yesterday. Our structures and particularly our press were excellent. We made things difficult at times in our decision-making and allowed them too many uncontested marks during the game which cost us and we will work on that."

Argall said that Pat Lattanzio's effort was fantastic and highlighted the experience Easson and Miller provided.

"Pat played across half forward and is hard at the ball. He hunts it as a forward and is also good midfield depth and he is providing defensive pressure and his effort was fantastic," Argall said.

"With Easson and Miller, their pedigree can't be questioned. They are fantastic footballers and even better people. To have them at the club is great for the younger guys as they can learn from them."

Lakers storm to victory

Taylors Lake stormed to an 18-point win against Edenhope Apsley at the Dock Lake Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

They kicked four goals to two in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead into quarter time and extended it to 37 at halftime. They held on in the second half to win 13.11.89 to 10.11.71.

Lakers playing coach Justin Beugelaar kicked a game-high four goals whilst recruit Brock Summerhayes kicked three for the Saints.

Bray Cullinan was best on the ground whilst Timothy Churcin shone for the Saints in his first game for the club.

Beugelaar said they came out to prove a point.

"We had a strong pre-season and were out to prove a point and prove a lot of people wrong as a lot of people have written us off, Beugelaar said.

"The win came down to a lot of our recruits. From the beginning we haven't chased superstars and wanted depth and players that are coachable and can play to a game plan and they did that on Saturday.

"Everyone stood up and in the second quarter we started to play our brand of footy. In the second half we hadn't been in that position before and it was a challenge, but the boys stuck to their guns and I am proud of them fighting to the end as the Sants are a quality side."

Beugelaar said everyone played well.

"There were no weak links. Everyone played their role and can be proud," Beugelaar said.

"Bray Cullinan is a bull in the middle and gave us first use of the footy and is an amazing two-way runner for us. Hunter Campey, who I have big wraps on worked his backside off on the wing and then off half back.

"Koby Westerland and Thomas Clugston did some great jobs down back."Paul Summers boots 11.

At Kalkee Recreation Reserve, 11 goals to recruit Paul Summers guided the Swifts to a 68-point win over Kalkee. The Swifts won 22.13.145 to 12.5.77.

Angus Murray and Chris Freeman were also solid for the Swifts with Hamish Excell, Matt Nield and Douglas Grining the better players for Kalkee.

Swifts coach Brett Hargreaves couldn't have asked for a better start.

"As far as round one goes, you couldn't ask for a lot more. It was a good score that we kicked. We knew Paul was a quality recruit and it is great having him on board. We don't expect anyone to kick 11," Hargreaves said.

"It's pleasing to see the way we moved the ball. The way we were training with quick ball movement, we did well.

"What we need to work on is our lapses through the game. We let them score too easy from lapses and it was disappointing so getting the team to play a whole quarter is the next thing we have to work on."

Natimuk start season with win

At Kaniva Recreation Reserve, five goals to Cody Frizon and four to Cody Maybery led Natimuk to a 28-point win over Kaniva Leeor.

Natimuk started slow with the Cougars taking a 10-point lead into quarter time. A four-goal second quarter saw the Rams take a two-point lead into halftime.

The Rams then asserted control in the second half, kicking eight goals to three to run out 13.9.87 to 8.11.59 victors.

Zachary Smith and Kaiden Sudholz were also among the best for the Rams alongside the goalkickers.

For the Cougars, Hamish Bennett and Billy King were their best with Patrick Munn and Riley Vivian kicking two goals a piece.

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<![CDATA[WFNL excited about wide open season]]> 209daa4b-062e-441a-88dd-939f20ed54bd https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/wfnl-excited-about-wide-open-season-2024-04-16 Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 Wimmera Football Netball League president Peter Ballagh is looking forward to the season with a new team coming in, rolling subs in netball introduced and the umpires and admin staff working harder than ever before.

"I am excited to see how the Thunder come together," Ballagh said.

"Good on them for being proactive and taking initiative out of last year to form a new club. I am happy to have them come into the league and looking forward to what they have to offer."

The big talking point in recent weeks has been the AFL changing the age group gap in the Under-14s and Under-17s which has left some clubs struggling for numbers.

"It was such a short notice period and credit to the clubs for taking it on the chin and working it the best they can," Ballagh said.

"No one is happy with it and we didn't see it coming at all. The short notice period hasn't given clubs a chance to chat to other clubs or sharing players and it's put a lot of people under pressure to sure up their numbers.

"Clubs have been very accepting and willing to work with us to get the best outcome."Ballagh said a lot of permits have come through and the board has approved a third of them, but there is a lot more to process.

"We are trying to make sure it doesn't impact the competition too much. Under the circumstances we have the best process in place," Ballagh said.

"We will try and accommodate those players as best we can. We have a full understanding that it's not going to be ideal, but we are working through it."

Rolling Subs a positive change

The other change that has been implemented is the rolling subs in netball. Rolling subs allows players to tag each other and rotate on and off the court and they won't need to wait for a stoppage in play.

"It has taken a lot of work for a few of our board members to look after this and they have done a good job on it and how it works," Ballagh said.

"It seemed to run smoothly in the Good Friday match between Ararat and Stawell and it will be interesting to see how clubs adapt and use it to their advantage.

"It's a positive addition to the netball side of things and we look forward to seeing how it unfolds during the season."

Sponsors acknowledged and board members thanked

Ballagh would like to thank the other board members for their hard work over the summer.

"It has been a busy summer for most of the board members, formulating the draw, looking after the juniors, implementing rolling subs and looking after sponsorship," Ballagh said.

"I have to give special mention to Jennie French and Jayde Ellis who have worked tirelessly during the off-season as well as Neil King and Bart Turgoose for their work with the sponsors.

"With the business environment tightening up, we had to sure up most of our sponsors and we thank them for jumping on board."

Ballagh thanked the sponsors and said they would be rewarded during the season.

"We will hold a sponsor night where all the sponsors can come together at the Horsham Sports and Community Club where we can thank the sponsors for their continued support," Ballagh said.

"We will do our utmost to promote these businesses and promote and encourage supporters to support these businesses that support us."

Umpires putting in the hard yards

Ballagh acknowledged the umpires, highlighting the work Chris Van Buuren has done as president.

"Chris has set up a new structure and has been fantastic to deal with," Ballagh said.

"There have been no issues with the umpires and everyone is happy and the umpires are happy.

"By all reports, they have good numbers and the umpires do a fantastic job for the league and hats off to Chris."

Competitive season ahead

Ballagh is excited by the recruits to the league and said it is going to be a cracking season.

"By all accounts, talking to clubs, everyone has recruited extremely well and it is going to be a cracking season across 2024 and I expect all clubs to be vying for a finals spot," Ballagh said.

"There will be good sides that finish outside of the five. Stawell has recruited well, the Burra will be thereabouts, Thunder is the unknown dark horse, the Saints have young talent, Nhill has recruited well and Warrack has recruited well.

"The Demons have a solid coach and young team, Dimboola has recruited well and Ararat is still up there so I am excited for a cracking season."

"In netball, looking at the club lists, it is going to be a cracking competition and there are a lot of clubs that have talent and will be vying for spots. It will be just as tight as the football in A-Grade netball."

MVP award

This season, Horsham Toyota is sponsoring an MVP award. Ballagh said it is exciting.

"There will be a public vote later in the year around round 15 where people will be invited to vote for the WFNL's most valuable player and you might be able to find a cheap car at the same time," Ballagh said.

Team of the Year

The WFNL Team of the Year is being decided differently this year. I, Chris Graetz will be organising it and in conjunction with sponsor Gavin Morrow and board member Neil King, who will both have input, a positional-based side in both football and netball will be named.

Coaches have been informed and will be asked at the end of the year to nominate players from their team they feel are deserving of being in the team. The shortlist will then be placed in the paper where we will choose the team and present it to the WFNL board to be approved.

As coaches won't nominate themselves, if any playing coach is in contention, then I will nominate them.

The strict rule is that any suspended player won't be eligible. If you are sanctioned you will still be eligible, however.

I am looking forward to being involved this year and thank the league for allowing me this opportunity.

]]>
<![CDATA[Roos start title defence with victory]]> 606b35f7-0b30-40fb-880e-08241774fa69 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/roos-start-title-defence-with-victory-2024-04-16 Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 Harrow Balmoral has started their premiership defence with a tough four-goal victory over Noradjuha Quantong at the Quantong Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

The Southern Roos came out of the blocks fast kicking three goals to one to take a 13-point lead into quarter-time.

The Bombers then started to get their game plan ticking along and kicked four goals to two to take a two-point lead into halftime.

The Roos wrestled back control in the third with a three-goal quarter to lead by 11 at the main change before running out winners by four goals, 12.7.79 to 8.7.55.

Michael Close kicked three goals for the Roos with Brock Orval also kicking three for the Bombers.

Matt Jones and Jai Thompson were brilliant for the Roos whilst ruckman Jack Vague and midfielder James Kerr alongside Jayden Besford were the better players for the Bombers.

Roos coach Jai Thompson said it was a good hitout for round one.

"These are the sort of games that you want to play, especially in round one," Thompson said.

"The Bombers are a good outfit and Damo has them playing well. We knew little bits on how they wanted to play and our job was to slow them down and control the footy and use our experience to do that and it was really good.

"We spent a bit of time last year winning by big margins and that may not be the case this season. It's a new year, new teams and they are different, so to grind out a win was awesome."

Thompson said there are things they need to work on and having the bye next week is a good chance for them to work on what they need to do to improve.

"We missed a lot of easy kicks and the boys were taking risks and weren't hitting the targets or switching the play well," Thompson said.

"The execution just wasn't there and our defensive zone and defensive positioning and spread could have been better.

"It's a 16-week season and it's only round one, so we can work on this and get things right."

The positive for the Roos is the younger players that stood up such as Rhys Daffey, Maddox Blake, George Austin and Alex Rees. Thompson was thrilled.

"I was impressed by our young blokes. The older guys like William Plush, Will Burbury, Michael Close and Peter Staude you know what you get out of them each week, but when you see the young guys come through, needing to get things done, they execute and it's great to see," Thompson said.

"Alex Rees snapped a great goal and Maddox Blake had a good running goal which was a nice sealer on the game for us.

"For them to have an influence straight away was rewarding. That's the great thing about our community and things were, we love to breed from within. We actively knew we had talented juniors coming through."

"If it meant some heartache early in the season by developing younger players, that comes and goes with the territory. I like to coach local players and give them a crack as they live and breathe the club and want us to win."

Bombers coach Damian Cameron said they can take plenty of positives out of the game and know what they need to work on.

"I am a bit disappointed in our execution of things as I would like to think we are a skillful, fit and fast side and we didn't work to those areas which made us battle a bit harder than we wanted to," Cameron said.

"In the first quarter, they caught us off guard and came out firing and were physical and it took us a while to get settled but in the second quarter, we were able to play our brand of footy. We shut them down and things flowed better.

"When things weren't going our way and we didn't perfect our style, we battled away and came close to the benchmark team, so that was a pretty positive thing to take from the match."

"If we want to be one of the top sides we need to work on how we want to play and play to our style."

Cameron was impressed with Jack Vague in the ruck and spoke positively about Brock Orval and Jason Kerr.

"Vague was solid in the ruck all day and got himself a bit of the ball," Cameron said.

"Brock did some good things and important things at times to get us into the lead and Kerr played a bit of the second half in the forward line after playing a lot through the midfield.

"The good thing about those guys is they are reliable and you can put them forward, midfield or back and know they can do the job."

Harrow Balmoral has the bye in round two whilst the Bombers will look to get their first win of the season when they travel to play Edenhope Apsley.

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<![CDATA[Clubs tribute to former players]]> 5bdea73d-aeb7-4215-8ee4-035bdde2b125 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/clubs-tribute-to-former-players-2024-04-16 Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 It was an emotional day to kick off round one of the Horsham and District Football Netball League with Pimpinio and Taylors Lake Football Netball Clubs hosting tributes to two people that brought life to their respective clubs.

At Pimpinio Sporting Complex, Pimpinio and Laharum held a minute silence before their match for Trent DeZoete and Pimpinio president Jock Baker presented his playing guernsey to his parents, Josh and Nicole and his younger brother Jamie.

After the game, the DeZoete family awarded a medal to the most determined player in the seniors game to Dylan Thomas.

Pimpinio club president Jock Baker said there were 400-500 people on the oval.

"The netballers came off the court and came onto the oval and it was very emotional. Trent was definitely looking over us and pushed us through to win the match," Baker said.

At Dock Lake Recreation Reserve, Taylors Lake held a tribute to club stalwart John 'JK' Kelly. JK was an integral part of their club on many levels including senior coach, league best and fairest winner, mentor and volunteer.

John's son Jack led the senior team out onto the field and then John's daughter Charlotte tossed the coin with Jack and John's wife Kristy present.

]]>
<![CDATA[HDFNL ready for season opener on Saturday]]> e4a88cc9-f2e4-4955-ab79-b79cd73d3086 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/hdfnl-ready-for-season-opener-on-saturday-2024-04-09 Tue, 09 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 When the 2024 Horsham and District Football Netball League (HDFNL) season gets underway this Saturday, it will bring a couple of changes.

Firstly, due to the amalgamation between Jeparit Rainbow Storm and Southern Mallee Giants, the league now has 11 teams which means the bye comes back for the first time in several years.

Rosemary Langley, Chairperson of the HDFNL said that it won't impact teams.

"We are still having one league bye for the King's Birthday, and every club will have two other byes, but I don't think many clubs will be concerned by that," Langley said.

Secondly, there is a new Under 11s competition. The league has wanted this introduction for many years.

There won't be any scoring or premiership points and the competition is there to bridge the gap between Auskick and the Under 14s.

"Wimmera Football Netball League has had the under 12s for a couple of years and we found out our kids were missing out," Langley said.

"We believed the under 11s would be a better fit for our league and the main reason behind it was to keep kids and their families at the club and have a pathway through.

"We can start getting games under their belts at a suitable age group and we are really happy that the majority of clubs have come on board."

Due to player availability, Harrow Balmoral and Natimuk won't have an under 11s side.

A rule handed down by the AFL changing the bottom age in the Under 14s years old means 11-year-olds can't play in the U14's.

Langley said it is disappointing and other clubs are also disappointed by the ruling.

"If they had given us notice that this would be a thing we could have planned for it," Langley said.

"For 11-year-olds to now play under 14s, they would need to apply to the board and we will have to go through each case individually and it has been unsettling for everyone involved.

"AFL Marsh Insurance needs to sign off on any application. What the AFL don't realise is it may work in metropolitan football, but at grassroots level, it doesn't fit us as we don't have as many children."

The other rule that is introduced is that if you are not turning 16 this year you won't be able to play senior football. That is also problematic for the league.

An example is if that was introduced two years ago, Frederick Frew wouldn't have been able to play senior football, nor would Alby Kingston and it wouldn't have been good for their development.

The clubs, however, can apply to the HDFNL board to get an exemption to that rule, but there is a process behind it and it means more work for the HDFNL which they are not equipped for.

"We don't want this. We are only volunteers," Langley said.

"The way that this has been handed down by the AFL isn't good. There has been no real direction and even our regional manager had no idea about these new protocols.

"The kids and clubs are suffering too and for it to be brought in only a few weeks out of the season."

The league has also brought in Travis Switzer from 'weculturevate' to facilitate health checks at clubs.

Travis will ring all the clubs and Zoom/meets with them where he asks them questions about how they are travelling and what their ups and downs are and also positives.

He liaises with the AFL and he gives feedback and will help with strategic plans moving forward.

Travis will seek to assist clubs to enhance their professionalism and grow participation.

In netball, rolling substitutions have been brought in. Players will tag each other and rotate on and off and won't need to wait for a stoppage in play.

Langley said it would be great for the juniors and has urged all clubs to work with it.

"It's a new concept which I think is great for the league," Langley said.

"It will help in juniors as they have more players and they won't be sitting on the bench a lot and will feel a part of the game.

"There will be a teething problem to start with like every new thing, but the clubs have received it well and I hope everyone can work with it and we may tweak it as we go along."

Finally, the league will shortly decide on all ground selected by finals. Last year the league made a shock push to let a club host the Grand Final instead of the Horsham City Oval and it was rewarded to Noradjuha Quantong.

Following the success, when asked if it will go to a club again, Langley was tight- lipped.

"We are working on who is hosting finals now," Langley said.

PROPOSED MERGER BETWEEN TAYLORS LAKE AND STAWELL SWIFTS U17s

On the eve of the Horsham and District Football Netball League season, Taylors Lake and Stawell Swifts have proposed a merger for their U17s teams.

Taylors Lake president Stuart Hall said they have been thinking about merging their juniors for a while but said the new rule the AFL brought in three weeks ago about bottom ages, forced their hand.

"It was a deciding factor. We could have pushed through some of the younger kids but we can't do that now," Hall said.

"We were thinking about it and had the feelers out for a while so it wasn't the only reason, but it contributed.

"It means kids will be guaranteed a game now and be competitive. We are pioneering a new concept and someone had to go first and I am pleased it was us."

Swifts president Peta Folkes said it is only a 12-month proposal and the main aim was to get players out on the football field.

"We wanted kids to play a few games and the new rules also influenced things," Folkes said.

"We want to look after our players and they will be able to build good sportsmanship playing for another team and helping their club and another club out for the season."

HDFNL Chair Rosemary Langley didn't comment but did say the board was talking about it at their meeting held Monday night and more information will be available in the coming days.

]]>
<![CDATA[Harrow Balmoral 2024 Season Preview]]> 37390750-b057-4e75-ae86-5e3cc1fb3dc4 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/harrow-balmoral-2024-season-preview-2024-04-09 Tue, 09 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 A look at Harrow Balmoral's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Tereasa Hobbs.

The big question on everyone's minds is after a dominant display last year, will Harrow Balmoral fall back to the pack or continue their dominance under coach Jai Thompson.

The Southern Roos dominated the competition last year. They averaged 147 points across their 18 games which included posting triple figures in 16 of their 18 games with massive scores of 219 and 203. Their average winning margin was 112 points.

This year, they are missing Simon Close due to an ACL injury he suffered in the Grand Final win over Jeparit Rainbow Storm. He had his operation in December so he won't be playing this year and it has left a massive hole in their forward line as he topped the league with 84 goals in 2023. James Staude, who kicked 46 goals has retired.

Their other two top goal-kickers from last year are sticking around. Nick Pekin kicked 51 goals last year and coach Jai Thompson kicked 43.

They have two former premiership players coming back to the club to boost their midfield in Cody Deutscher and Scott Addinsall.

Addinsall played for Cavendish last year whilst Deutscher had a two-year stint as an assistant coach with Coleraine in which he won a premiership.

Thompson is excited about what the returning players can bring and is hopeful they can help cover the losses of Close and Staude.

"Nick Pekin will probably play a lot up forward and we have a talent in Cody Deutscher who is an on-ball talent and someone we can send forward and I can play forward," Thompson said.

"There are other young kids that are coming through that could play a role up forward including Maddox Blake and Alex Rees.

"Whilst they don't have the height, they have good leading patterns and have been solid on the track."

Last year the game plan featured longer kicking to the forwards but this season, it will be tweaked to involve shorter kicking.

"As we are a bit smaller we will do a bit more run and carry, which will involve shorter kicking to get the ball over the top to our forwards who display speed and agility," Thompson said.

When asked who is going to take the next step, Thompson mentioned Will Burbury as well as a couple of under-17 players from last year who at times tasted senior football.

"Will has been awesome and he was a good talent last year and over the pre-season, he has added another string to his bow by focusing on kicking and driving through the midfield which will be important," Thompson said.

"George Austin and Rhys Daffey have both looked awesome during the pre-season. Then we have Josh Grant off half-back who showed a bit last year and is looking good.

"We know what we can get out of the senior players so it is exciting to see what we could get out of these kids with their drive, run power, speed and different gameplay."

Jeremy Watt is coaching the reserves and Thompson said there is a lot of competition for spots and he has done a fantastic job.

"Watt has been great with the guys and has done a fantastic job. A lot of guys are pushing for senior spots," Thompson said.

"We had 10 players come up from the under 17s and they all can't play seniors so they will be putting pressure on people.

"With the youth being able to uplift the reserves, we should see a lot of pressure put on the senior list which is healthy as a football club."

When asked who the main challengers will be this year, Thompson pointed out both Noradjuha Quantong and Stawell Swifts.

The Southern Roos start their premiership defence against another premiership hopeful, Noradjuha Quantong.

NETBALLERS SET TO IMPROVE

After finishing second last in 2023 with two wins, new coach Emily Langley believes they can improve enough to play finals in 2024.

Langely is no stranger to Harrow Balmoral after playing her juniors at the club and being a multiple premiership player before leaving in 2016.

In what is her first senior coaching gig, Langley has a good young team at her disposal and coupled with some good recruits, can easily improve on last year.

Sarah Edwards is joining the club after teaching in Murtoa as well as Sophie Antonello from Minyip Murtoa. Tori Dunstan has come home from school in Adelaide, Lily Cameron has signed up and Megan Little is returning to the club after giving birth to a daughter, Tess.

Little has played in several grand finals for Harrow Balmoral from juniors through to seniors as well as winning several best and fairest awards and being named in the Harrow Balmoral Football Netball Club team of the decade.

Langley is excited about what these recruits can bring.

"Megan has a wealth of knowledge and can play any position and she is formidable to play with and to play against. She has stepped into our leadership team and is our 'golden girl'", Langley said.

"Lily Cameron hasn't played for a few years but is six-foot-two and can play either end of the court and is willing to learn."

Alongside these new players and returning players from last year, there is an abundance of youth led by Tara McIntyre.

"Tara McIntyre plays in the goal line and she is a league representative and has a lot more development in her and is looking good," Langley said.

"We also have Mia Rees, Rory Mason and Heidi Robinson who are all coming up from 15s and 17s and showing huge potential and a desire to learn which is a coach's dream."

Langley knows a lot needs to go right but has sights set on finals.

"I believe the finals are on the horizon. The team we have has come in leaps and bounds and we are looking good across our senior grades," Langley concluded.

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Harrow Balmoral president Tereasa Hobbs is in her third year now and the club couldn't be in a better place.

Off the field, they have recently got new netball courts at Harrow Recreation Reserve following new buildings at both Harrow and Balmoral Recreation Reserves. They are also close to securing a light tower upgrade at Harrow.

"We have been very fortunate in the last two years to get facilities upgraded, especially being a little country district league club," Hobbs said.

"We are also fortunate to have two good recreation reserves that are prepared well."

On the field, the club has an abundance of youth through both football and netball. In football, ten under-17 footballers have stayed with the club and will move into the senior ranks.

In netball, the under 13s are a bit light on but all other junior grades have good numbers and Hobbs said everyone is excited about the season ahead.

"We have great coaches that are prepared to play the youth and turn them into our future senior football and netballers," Hobbs said.

"We are fortunate we have some good youth here so our focus has been on our locals with the juniors coming up rather than focusing on a big recruitment spree.

"Everyone is just excited about what we can accomplish this year on the field and court."

]]>
<![CDATA[Noradjuha Quantong 2024 Season Preview]]> 3dff0e5a-c94b-4752-b7dd-487eeb7c7aa2 https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/noradjuha-quantong-2024-season-preview-2024-04-09 Tue, 09 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 A look at Noradjuha Quantong's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Darren Scott.

Noradjuha Quantong were the big improvers in the Horsham and District Football Netball League last season and with natural improvement, they will be looking to take the next step.

Coached by Damian Cameron again, his second year in charge, the Bombers have retained most of their list from last year whilst bringing in some younger players.

They are at an age where the bulk of the team is around the 21-24 age bracket.

Judah Hobbs returns to the club following a stint away. He played juniors with the club and has been training well. Harley and Ryder Pope join from Horsham. Harley played senior football whilst this will be Ryder's first year out of juniors.

They also benefited from the amalgamation between the Southern Mallee Giants and Jeparit Rainbow Storm signing key defender Brayden Carra from the Giants.

Cameron said he is excited about what they will bring to the club.

"These young guys are exciting and they are passionate about their footy and hopefully they will slot in well and help us continue what we started last year," Cameron said.

"We are young and now have experience, so the natural improvement will be huge. We are getting a team in the right age bracket that has their best footy ahead of them.

"With the Storm leaving, it opens a gap and it's always in the back of our head how close we came and that is motivating us for this season."

Cameron said their strength this year is their backline and the midfield is bolstered and improved. When asked who will take their game to the next level this year, he mentioned a few names.

"Declan Bushby had a big preseason and showed glimpses of what he can do when he puts it all together and on the wing, he is going to be huge for us," he said.

"Wade Francis as our captain has had his biggest pre-season ever and he is ready to put a stamp on the league.

"James Hallett and James Gregg are another two that are looking good and will be big for us through the midfield."

The Bombers will be looking at bringing a similar style to last year and have the potential to be a formidable outfit.

The Bombers open their season at home against reigning premiers Harrow Balmoral.

NETBALLERS READY TO STRIKE

After making the semifinals last year, Noradjuha Quantong netballers will be looking to go better when they tackle the 2024 season.

Coached by Fiona Rowe again, the bombers have a similar team to last year. Whilst they haven't been looking to outside help much, with Holly Nuske the biggest name recruit from the Horsham Demons, they have been developing from within and Rowe said they want to develop as a team.

"Focusing on this year we aim to continue to develop and extend our connections with our teammates," Rowe said.

"We have had good numbers at training and we have been focusing on getting that base fitness and the strength whilst applying our netball skills under high intensity. We are ready to hit round one."

Going deep into finals is the aim and Rowe knows they need to focus every game.

"We need to take every game as it comes and every game we need to be switched on," Rowe said.

"The competition will be strong this year and we can't let a game slip.

"We need to continuously grow and develop each week and most importantly, learn from our experiences."

When asked who is standing out and could have a big season, Rowe didn't want to single anyone out but mentioned a couple of names, including league best and fairest from 2023, Brook Pay.

"Brook Pay and Shannon Couch up each end are going to be hard for the opposition," Rowe said.

"Holly Nuske has been outstanding in pre-season and it is exciting to see her gel with the rest of the team and fit in. She is going to bring a lot to our midcourt. We are excited to see what she can produce".

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Darren Scott is enjoying his first year as president. Scott took over from Matt Treacy and said the club is in a strong position.

"We will be fielding teams in all grades. The numbers have been good," he said.

"Senior netball may have lost a couple of players but they are still looking good and the senior footballers did well last year.

"We had a bit of luck with injuries but with Jeparit leaving and Edenhope down a bit in netball, I'd be disappointed if we didn't finish in the top four."

In a league first, the Bombers held the Grand Final at Quantong Recreation Reserve and whilst nothing has been announced yet, they will be hoping with last year's success, it is held there again.

Scott said big reunions are coming up later in the year.

"On August 10 we have our past player days which will also feature the Noradjuha 40-year and Quantong 30-year reunions."

]]>
<![CDATA[Rupanyup 2024 Season Preview]]> f7c7a4a3-f8a0-451c-bd94-1d393ddb0a2d https://www.horshamtimes.com.au/rupanyup-2024-season-preview-2024-04-09 Tue, 09 Apr 2024 00:00:00 +1000 A look at Rupanyup's 2024 season in both football and netball and a message from President Matt Webb.

The Panthers won the flag in 2022 and made the semifinals last year and in his third year as coach, Brayden Ison has his sights firmly set on finals again this year.

There are a handful of players missing from last year such as Elliot Kelly, Ryan Timmins Joe Tormey, Mitch Musgrove and Jordan Weidemann.

With the loss, however, come some massive gains.

2022 premiership player Andy Phelan returns to the midfield after a year off playing for Churchill.

The midfield will also be boosted by Kane Timmins from Wandalla in the Golden Rivers Football League whilst winger Lachlan Holm comes from the Stawell Warriors.

The forward line and defence have been bolsted by Thomas Smith, a lightly built agile hybrid forward from West Gambier in the Limestone Coast League and small defender Bailey Rothall from Glencoe in the Mid South Eastern League.

Ison said finals is the first target for the season and then will take it from there.

"If we can make finals again, then anything can happen," Ison said.

"Finals is a different ball game and once you make finals you give yourselves every chance."

It is yet to be seen how many games key defender Connor Weidemann and midfielder/back flanker Alby Kingston play due to Rebels commitments, but when they do play, they will boost the team.

"It's great to see them both in the Rebels again," Ison said.

"Albie in particular had a full year of senior football as a 16-year-old and has shown massive improvement. He can move to the back flank and show what he is made of as a dashing running halfback.

"It's good for the supporters of the club to have these kids in the Rebels as everyone has seen them develop and grow up and they now have the opportunity to take their football to the next level."

When asked which youngsters are impressing this year, Ison mentioned two. Jimmy Finnigan and Riley Downer.

"This will be Jimmy's first year out of the under-17s and first full year in seniors and he has been training well. He will fit that centre half forward position," Ison said.

"Riley Downer is a 15-year-old who looks very impressive at an early stage and could be anything. Depending on rules he may play some senior games this year.

"Max Sudholz is another to mention. He played a few senior games last year and has been looking great."

Panthers have the bye in round one and will open their season at home against Pimpinio.

NETBALLERS READY TO POUNCE

The Panthers netballers, A and B squads will be coached by Jedda Heard and the A side is poised to be one of the premiership fancies.

Heard was best on court in the Grand Final for the Horsham Demons in the 2022 Wimmera Netball League Grand Final and has been a state title representative so the signing is a massive coup for a Panthers squad that is poised to take the next step.

There has been a recruiting spree in the off-season with Victoria Taylor, Maddi Morgan and Meg Cashin all joining the club.

Taylor comes from Pimpinio and Heard said she would be massive in defence.

"Victoria will be a huge asset down back. She is strong, tall, versatile and she can create a lot of drive down the attacking end," Heard said.

Maddi Morgan and Meg Cashin both join from Minyip Murtoa and will strengthen the attack and midcourt.

"Maddi will be a strong asset in the ring and will be hard to defend," Heard said.

"Cashin is a really strong leader in the midcourt and she will be one of the main midcourters that can provide drive and that will be important for what we want to do."

The Panthers have also retained some key players from last year including league-leading goal shooter, Zanaiya Bergen.

After making the preliminary finals last year, Heard believes they have the talent to take the next step.

"They did well last year and we definitely want to improve on that. We want to win," Heard said.

"What I want to do is create a place where people want to come to play. A place where they know they will get a lot out of training and know what they are going to get."

Heard emphasised junior development as a key.

"We want to develop the young netballers so they stay and create that foundation of juniors coming through that can last for the next five to ten years," Heard said.

"We want to encourage them to go to seniors training and a lot of them are joining in and that is important.

"There are a few that could take the step this year, but we need to see how well they are going at training and whether we think they can come up to the seniors."

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Matt Webb is returning as Rupanyup president in 2024 and the club couldn't be in better shape heading into the season.

Securing Brayden Ison as coach for another season as well as bringing on Jedda Heard as A Grade netball coach was a big coup for the club and Webb said it was important for the club to get them signed on.

"As soon as the season ended last year we knew we needed to sign Brayden again and we made it a priority," Webb said.

"We like Iso as a coach and he has done a great job for us and has been successful over the last few years.

"He is very good with focusing on juniors and trying to develop them. You can see with guys like Connor Weidemann and Albie Kingston playing for the Rebels. He gave them that chance and they have shone."

"To be able to get Jedda to the club has been important as well. We had to try and get the momentum going from last year and she has started beautifully with the new team."

Webb said the juniors are scraping by and the new ruling by the AFL with the bottom age numbers could have a significant impact all the way through juniors, but time will tell on that.

"We just don't know how that will all affect things yet. With the insurance and everything, we just have to wait and see," Webb concluded.

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