In the Sheds: Saints’ kicking is sinful

By Paul Daffey

HORSHAM Saints president Peter Daffy might have been on to something when he bumped into his counterpart from Warrack Eagles, David Stewart, at the Wimmera league’s elimination final on Sunday. The previous day, at Central Park in Stawell, the Eagles defeated the Saints in the qualifying final by two points, 11.11 (77) to 9.21 (75). “We might do some kicking practice this week,” Daffy told the Eagles president. The Saints were clear favourites before the match, not least because the Eagles had won only two of their previous eight games. The Saints’ day was summed up by a passage of play featuring 18-year-old midfielder Patrick Knott, who took the ball from a centre bounce, dodged and weaved through the Eagles defence, lined up from 15 metres out—and hit the post. The wonkiest boot belonged to Saints full-forward Gavin Kelm, who began the day on 99 goals. Kelm had five shots before finally bringing up his ton late in first quarter. Kelm is a 34-year-old farmer and truck driver. He played his career in the midfield before moving to the goalsquare this season. After finishing with 1.9 on Saturday, he might look at returning to the midfield. Stewart revealed that Kevin Sheedy spoke at the Eagles’ Anzac Park social rooms in Warracknabeal on Thursday evening, but he wasn’t about to praise Sheeds for inspiring the victory. He said Eagles coach Harvey Lang blasted the players at half-time and they responded well. Wingman Heath Schulz kicked the final two goals, including one in the final 90 seconds to put the Eagles ahead for the first time in the match.

TORQUAY responded to a half-time blast from its coach, Luke Rayner, to rebound from nowhere and defeat Drysdale in their Bellarine league qualifying final at Portarlington on Saturday. The game had taken a turn in the second quarter when Drysdale full-forward Luke Maher hit his head on the ground after leading for the ball with his opponent, Lee Price, on his hammer. After staggering to his feet, the clearly concussed Maher took a swing at Price, leaving the umpire with no choice but to send him off. Drysdale responded to playing with 17 men by playing out of their skin; the Hawks went into half-time with a 45-point lead. The address of Rayner (ex-Carlton, North Melbourne, Myrtleford and West Perth), who missed the game after badly bruising his hand the previous week, stung the Tigers into action. With captain Richard Briesch on fire in the middle in the last quarter, they got up to win by six points.

FRANKSTON Bombers also got up after a gusty comeback, in their case against Dromana in the Nepean league qualifying final at Rye on Sunday. The two clubs had met a week previously, in the final round, with the Bombers winning by 12 goals. That result sent Dromana tumbling from top to third. Sorrento moved up to first place and the Bombers were second. On Saturday, Dromana had Frankston’s measure for most of the match, only for the Bombers to chip away and draw within three points. With seconds to go, former Hawthorn and Port Adelaide wingman Nathan Lonie bombed a goal on the run from the wing—about 60 metres out—to enable the Bombers to win by three points. Lonie played on a wing, with his twin brother Ryan, the former Collingwood player, on the other wing. Bombers president Chris Bull said Nathan was undemonstrative after his goal. “He just went back to his position.” The Bombers were in no mood to bounce around and celebrate after playing poorly for most of the match. “We got out of jail,” Bull said.

ROBINVALE had a narrow escape in its first-semi final against Sunraysia league rival Red Cliffs on Saturday when a Red Cliffs shot at goal in the final minute was sprayed out on the full. Robinvale won by a point. The match at Irymple was another dramatic instalment in the career of midfielder Don Falvo, a 34-year-old who’s won nine club best-and-fairest awards with Robinvale and two league medals. On Saturday Falvo broke the league record for most games, held by former Mildura Imperials legend Tony Hickey, when he played his 331st senior match.

SWIFTS Creek also had a close escape on Saturday when it defeated arch-rival Omeo-Benambra by six points in the Omeo and District league preliminary final at Ensay. According to Swifts Creek stalwart Ray Gallagher, who’s followed the Creek for all his 47 years, the second-half performance of 18-year-old midfielder Joseph Crabtree was exceptional, especially considering he played with his head swathed in a bandage in an attempt to stopper his bleeding nose. “It was among the best halves of footy I’ve seen at the club,” Gallagher said. Crabtree is doing Year 12 at Swifts Creek Secondary College. Two fellow Year 12 students also played well after returning from boarding school for the match. Bill Richardson (Melbourne Grammar) was dashing in defence while Alastair Commins (Geelong Grammar) was a target in attack. This Saturday Swifts Creek plays Swan Reach in Victoria’s first senior grand final. The Swans defeated Swifts Creek by 120 points in the second semi. “We’re looking for a 121-point turnaround,” Gallagher said.

REDAN playing-coach Brendan Peace admitted that not many country footy clubs follow the AFL practice of a cold-water dip as a means of speeding up recovery, but his club began doing so in 2004. The Redan players had a dip on Sunday in Lake Esmond, which is towards Mount Clear on Ballarat’s fringe, after defeating Ballarat by 80 points to secure the Ballarat league minor premiership. Peace, a 24-year-old rover in his first year as Redan coach, said the Lions mostly do their recovery at the pool at Ballarat and Clarendon College, where he teaches English and PE, but Lake Esmond is a better option because of the cooler temperature. “It’s really cold,” he said. Jarrod Edwards, a 30-year-old Redan midfielder who’s won three Ballarat league medals, believes the natural-springs lake offers much greater restorative qualities than the pool. So much so that he follows a pool session with teammates by heading straight to the lake for a follow-up on his own. On Sunday the Redan players received a mild shock when players from rival club Lake Wendouree waded into Lake Esmond at the same time — even though Lake Wendouree would appear to have its own body of water for recovery purposes. “Lake Wendouree is dry,” Peace explained. Redan plays Darley in the qualifying final at Ballarat’s City Oval on Saturday. Lake Wendouree plays Sunbury in an elimination final at Ballarat’s Eastern Oval on Sunday. At least the recoveries will be staggered.

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