A STRONG opening quarter set the tone for the Ararat Rat's massive win against the Stawell Warriors on Saturday.
The hosting Rats met with the Warriors for a round 16 face off which would impact the Rats' finals chances.
In the opening quarter the Rats kicked six goals - half which were from Jack Ganley - while the Warriors only managed two.
That intensity was in place for three quarters, though the Rats dropped off in the last, scoring nothing while the Warriors kicked three goals in fairly quick succession.
"It was really good," Ararat coach Shane Fisher said. "We dropped off in the last quarter. We only had two rotations from quarter time, and we had no bench in the last quarter from a couple of injuries, so it's not a concern in the last quarter - but the three quarters before it were really impressive."
At half-time Fisher impressed upon the team the importance of maintaining their lead.
"They were focused before the game; we knew today was a final and we've got a lot of respect for Stawell," he said. "They are probably our number one rival over the years."
Fisher put the win down to a few key things.
"Our hardness and our ability to win some stoppages; our inside 50 count was our way by a mile which means we're getting a lot of the ball, which is a pleasing thing," he said.
He also said the Rats will have to change up the side a bit heading into the next round against Horsham.
"There are a few injuries and we're going to have to give a couple of blokes a week off to get ourselves fresh," he said.
Tyler Cronin hurt his hamstring and Dylan Gordge hurt his knee.
"The reality is now we can probably start to think about the double chance, which was so important in today's game and was on the line," Fisher said.
"There's a couple of guys in the reserves - our captain in particular and a couple of others that probably need a chance to see where they are at - so we'll bring a couple of boys in."
Stawell's playing coach Damian Joiner said the game was a disappointing outcome but his side made the most of the fourth quarter.
"We were just second to the ball all day," he said.
"We were too one dimensional and their spread and their run really caught us out in the opening and it's too hard to claw back at the end.
"The positive was that we finished off the game well, but it was very disappointing."
Fisher also announced his resignation from the club after this season.
"It was a pleasing thing that I announced it last week but the boys have responded today," he said.
"It's not about me but you don't want them to be disheartened or lose focus, so that was a pleasing thing to tell the boys where I sit. Going forward they were happy to really perform today."
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