Ararat overcomes slow start to snare a grand final birth

WFL - The Ararat Rats under 14s shook off a slow start to defeat the Horsham Saints and book their spot in the 2012 Wimmera Football League grand final last Saturday.

The second semi final was a tight contest until the final term, when the Rats upped the pressure to run away with a 27-point win, 7.5 (47) to 3.2 (20).

After enduring two consecutive weekends off due to a round 18 bye and finishing on top of the ladder, Ararat coach Ali Williamson said his team was made to work.

"We had a fight on our hands for three and a half quarters," he said.

"I think the boys were a bit slow out of the blocks from not playing for the past three weeks, they were a bit rusty but got their act together in that last quarter which was pleasing."

Ararat kicked two goals straight in the opening term to the Saints' 1.2, in what was a high intensity quarter.

Chris Wilson and Lachie Marr were keeping the pressure on their opponents, while Tom Louder looked dangerous up forward.

Both teams' backlines stood firm in the second quarter, as just one goal each was scored.

Declan Roberts was working overtime in defence to stop the Saints' power forwards.

"It was really a battle of the midfield for most of the second and third quarters, we ran the ball well I thought, but the disposal let us down a bit," Williamson said.

"Hamish Jennings' run on the wing was pivotal for us."

Ararat held a seven point advantage at three quarter time and began to build on that margin early in the final term.

Williamson said the pressure the Rats put on their opponents in the closing stages of the game was critical in keeping the Saints scoreless, while adding three goals of their own.

"We started winning the ball out of the ruck a bit more thanks to Logan North and Will Taylor," he said.

"The ball was constantly in the forward line and we continued to fight to keep it in there.

"The midfielders all did their jobs well."

Ruck-rover, Riley Taylor booted two goals in a best on ground performance.

Williamson said Taylor played a solid four quarter game and his long penetrating kicks, along with his smothers and one percent efforts, were an important factor in the win.

With another weekend off Ararat will continue to stick to its routine on the training track and wait to see who its opponent will be after Sunday's preliminary final.

"We will just stick to what we normally do," Williamson said.

"We will train hard and get the miles in their legs and get a bit of touch and do game simulation stuff.

"It is pretty hard to prepare at this stage when you don't know who you are playing. They (Horsham Saints and Nhill) are two pretty different teams in the way they play, so we'll wait and see how we approach it."

Ararat's under 17 team also made it through to the WFL grand final in straight sets after defeating Horsham Demons in Dimboola in Saturday's second semi final.

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