Wimmera Football League under-17 preliminary finals | Horsham Saints v Stawell

SET SHOT: Aiden Graveson kicks for goal. Graveson booted two majors in Stawell's win over Horsham last weekend. Picture: Peter Pickering.

SET SHOT: Aiden Graveson kicks for goal. Graveson booted two majors in Stawell's win over Horsham last weekend. Picture: Peter Pickering.

A qualifying final loss to the Horsham Saints will be used as a learning curve for Stawell’s under-17 football team ahead of Sunday’s preliminary final.

The Saints easily dealt with the Warriors two weeks ago in the first round of the finals, recording a 47-point victory on the back off a string first half.

Stawell conceded nine goals in the first two quarters of that game before consolidating after half-time to keep the margin below 50 points.

Warriors coach Brett Graveson said his side takes a lot out of the loss.

“The Saints gave us a bit of a lesson last time,” he said.

“We will change our tactics up a bit. They have a couple of quality players we need to nullify.”

Stawell scraped past Horsham in an elimination semi-final last weekend, with a solid second half coming to the rescue once again.

Four unanswered goals in the final term fired the Warriors into the preliminary final against the Saints after they suffered a heavy loss to Ararat. 

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy against Horsham,” Graveson said.

“You have got to be in it to win it and if we can stay alive you never know what is possible.”

Stawell will be looking for an even contribution across the ground against the Saints.

Under-17 league best and fairest runner up Lucky Ika will spearhead Stawell’s midfield group, but the real strength of the Stawell is consistency from its whole group. 

Six players have kicked 10 or more goals for the Warriors this season.

“I would say where some teams have a few really good players that we have a more level field,” Graveson said.

“We need a more even contribution from our whole team.

“We have always said that if everyone is at 100 per cent we are capable of beating the best teams.”

Graveson said the key to beating the Saints will be keeping the ball out of their hands.

“We have to try to maintain possession,” he said.

“If we can minimise turnovers, want the ball more than them and work hard we will have a chance to beat them.

“The boys will have to come off the ground knowing they spent everything they have got.”

Graveson said he is a little surprised but pleased with how far his team has come.

“At the start of the season we wanted to finish in the top five, so a potential grand final berth is amazing,” he said.

“The boys have had a great year and have improved so much.

“It is good to see reward for their hard work.”

First bounce is at 10.45am. 

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