STAWELL Westlift Warriors may have gone down to Horsham Saints by six goals on Saturday, but to pressure one of the Wimmera Football League flag favourites all day showed plenty of promise.
It was only a one quarter blitz from the Saints, the third term in which they booted eight goals to Stawell's one, that gave them the edge in what was otherwise an even contest.
One of the key match ups for the afternoon saw Todd Matthews lining up on dangerous Saints goalkicker Gavin Kelm. Although Kelm ended up with four goals for the match, Matthews dominated as he read the fall of the ball better, ran off his opponent and created plenty of drive.
Through his drive from full back, Warriors certainly had their opposition's measure early and were probably unlucky not to have been leading at half time.
They were within seven points at quarter time and then 10 points at half time. It was just a matter of too many turnovers in the second term that proved costly, often gifting Saints an easy goal.
However, late in the term, things started to swing back Stawell's way, as consecutive goals to ruckman Shane Field and Brenton Potter on the run, had Stawell within 10 points. Less than a minute later, Potter goaled again to bring the margin back to four points.
Only a lucky snap from a stoppage by Sam Clyne with seconds remaining on the clock swung the momentum back the way of Horsham Saints, who led at half time by 10 points.
The feeling in the Stawell rooms was positive, with coach Brad Cassidy issuing a challenge to his players to continue with the pressure and the momentum.
"We made a strong statement last week in the first half against Horsham and then we fell away," Cassidy said.
"We've made a statement again today. The challenge for us now is to maintain it. We need to keep the pressure on, minimise our turnovers by improving our skill level and the game is ours for the taking, if we want it."
Unfortunately, the Saints were presented with the same challenge and responded better, going on a goalkicking spree in a dominant third term. They booted 8.1 to Stawell's 1.5 to take a stranglehold on the match.
Trailing by 48 points at the last change, the end result could go two ways - A 100 point blowout, or Stawell could answer Cassidy's call to win the final term and that they did.
Warriors may have added just two goals for the term, but kept their Saints opposition, touted by many as a genuine premiership contender, to just four behinds to win the term and win back some pride.
Apart from Matthews, who played by far his best game of the season, Stawell was well served by ruckman Shane Field, six goal forward Brenton Potter and onballer Tom Eckel.