Border Mail Round 17 – Preview
HOLBROOK assistant coach Sam Harris says the youthful exuberance of the Brookers’ juniors has been the major driving force behind the club’s late-season revival.
The Brookers looked dead and buried as a finals force when they slumped to ninth on the ladder with a 1-5 record after a 44-point loss to Billabong Crows in round six.
But they have since been able to resurrect their season with youngsters Will and Lachie Holmes and Charlie Harbison leading the charge.
They still must defeat an equally desperate fourth-placed Billabong Crows on Saturday and CDHBU in the final round to guarantee a finals berth.
But Harris said the Brookers had gained plenty of confidence after recently claiming the huge scalp of Brock-Burrum and forcing a draw with Osborne last weekend.
“We started the season slowly after being handed a tough draw and the commitment levels just weren’t there,” Harris said.
“But since we lost to the Crows we have been playing a decent brand of football.
“Externally people may be surprised we rolled Brock-Burrum and drew with Osborne.
“But it doesn’t surprise us.
“The message internally was you have to commit and what you get out of footy depends on how much you want to put in.”
Harris said while experienced teammates in coach Matt Sharp, Andrew and Brendan Dess had been performing, it was the youngsters who had led the revival.
“We have got some ripping kids,” he said.
“Lachie Holmes would have to be the best kid in the competition playing seniors that is still eligible to play under-17s.
“He’d be right up there in our best and fairest which is a fair effort.
“He has played half-forward, wing, on-ball as well as down back and never gets beat.
“Ewan Mackinlay and Tom Heriot have also played over the past fortnight and showed promise.”
Arguably, since round six, the Brookers have been in as good as form as any side in the competition notching seven wins, two losses and a draw.
“We have been close to full-strength for the past two months,” he said.
If the Brookers make finals, Harris expects skipper Josh Jones to return to the line-up.
Jones has been missing since round 14 after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis.
“He is pretty keen to play finals if we make it and he recovers in time,” he said.
“Fingers crossed we make it.”
The Brookers are expected to welcome back Brendan Dess for their must-win clash against Billabong Crows.
Saturday, August 17
CDHBU v Henty
Howlong v Jindera
Lockhart v Osborne
Billabong Crows v Holbrook
Murray Magpies v Culcairn
Rand-Walbundrie-Walla v Brock-Burrum
(Former Brock-Burrum coach)
(The Border Mail)
(Holbrook life member)
PRICE ISN’T RIGHT
Henty coach Joel Price’s season looks over.
After feeling off colour for some time, the veteran left-footer was recently diagnosed with glandular fever.
Henty’s season is hanging by a thread with the Swampies needing to defeat CDHBU and Billabong Crows while relying on other results going their way.
Billabong Crows youngster Zak Sartore is going places – to Ireland, France and England in fact.
The strongly-built Crow has been invited to be part of a junior international AFL touring squad next year.
Zak kicked three goals in the opening 10 minutes against Rand-Walbundrie-Walla’s under-14s last weekend.
PRIDE OF THE LIONS
Former Culcairn premiership full-back Paul Smith came out of retirement to play with his sons, Noah and Ronan, in the reserves against Jindera last weekend.
Smith, who is principal at Albury North Public School, produced a handful of trademark defensive acts but one Lion insider said his statistics “weren’t great at all”.
Noah was quick to nominate his highlight of the match.
“Probably when Dad asked me if we could swap opponents because my opponent looked a bit slower than his,” Noah said.