Rats return to face rivals

WFL - Ararat Rats' joint-coach David Hosking said his team must carry the momentum from an impressive opening round win into Sunday's match against rival Stawell in the Wimmera Football League.

Prior to the Easter break the Rats recorded a massive 58-point victory against Nhill at Alexandra Oval and the side will be eager to continue its winning start when it travels up the Western Highway to battle the Warriors for the Perce Bushby Cup.

In stark contrast Stawell spent the long weekend licking its wounds after being handed a 93-point trouncing by Minyip/Murtoa.

Hosking said victory against the Tigers has created a positive energy amongst the Rats players, but he is wary of not being over confident when hostilities are renewed with Stawell.

"The feeling I get from talking to a few people is that Stawell think there may only be a few opportunities this year (for a win) and they will be looking at last season and the ladder position and say Ararat at home is one of those chances," he said.

"I expect a very fired up team on Sunday trying to atone for their first round showing, so it is critical we get away to a similar start to the Nhill match.

"If we allow them into the game they'll get their backs up. We've got to try and put them away as soon as possible."

Ararat flew out of the blocks against the Tigers, kicking seven first quarter goals to the opposition's one, which is something Hosking and Andrew Louder will be hoping can become a trademark of 2014.

At either end of the field Jack Ganley and Jake Williamson will be important players against the Warriors, while Hosking said the new recruits have already strengthened the team across all lines.

"We'll be expecting Jake can have another good game and hopefully he can really hurt the opposition with his foot skills," he said.

"It is fair to say the new guys were all pretty impressive last match too, (Daniel) Mendes in the middle, Beau (Cosson), Tyler (Cronin), even Tim Porter, while he might not have got a lot of the ball, to me he has shown significant development and we have a long term view with Tim.

"I'm hoping he can be a really good player for us in the future years.

"It was a really good sign that everyone played their part. There wasn't a bloke I looked at in the 21 and thought he was poor.

"Again this could be the difference between last year and this season, having more players that are consistent contributors over four quarters."

The only concern for the Rats is the loss of Zander Laidlaw, who appeared to strain his hamstring at training on Tuesday night.

Hosking said he had full confidence in Brady Miller to hold down the centre half-back position in Laidlaw's absence, while Will Bell appears to be the likely candidate to come into the side after he saw plenty of the ball playing with the Rats' reserves in round one.

Under new coach Brad Cassidy, Stawell has a number of new players including key forward Chris Ford and onballer Todd Clearly, which adds an element of the unknown for the Rats.

Ararat will need wary of veteran ruckman Shane Field, who has hurt the Rats in recent outings with his ability to drop back into space and cut off the flow into the forward-50.

Hosking said while Ararat has enjoyed the spoils of a round one victory, the team must move past that now and concentrate on the task at hand."We have always found the Ararat-Stawell games tough and particularly being up in Stawell we will have to work very hard," he said.

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