OLD Collegians have made the biggest statement in the first half of the Warrnambool and District league A grade season: ‘Catch us if you can’.
But it’s one that’s come with a little trepidation for Lisa Arundell’s reigning premier. The one-time hunters are slightly wary of being caught now they’re the hunted.
The top-of-the-table Warriors have gone 9-0 in the first nine rounds of the season but haven’t been as convincing as the record suggests.
Their narrow wins against Allansford (four goals) and Timboon Demons (one goal) prove back-to-back flags is far from a fait accompli. And the chasers are on their tail.
In positional order, Dennington, Panmure, Allansford, Kolora-Noorat, Timboon Demons and Merrivale all have claims to a spot in the finals.
Even eighth-placed Russells Creek, two games off fifth spot, could make a late-season surge provided it starts to find the ring with more regularity.
As Arundell said this week: “I still think we’ve got a lot of room for improvement”. A sporting cliche that could hardly be more accurate.
Should Arundell be worried? Perhaps if the Warriors’ form was similar late in the campaign with finals fast approaching.
But it’s only the halfway mark. If anything, it’s a positive they’ve been able to win with consistency, knowing how much potential is untapped.
Goalers Steph Townsend and Sophie Ballinger have a good understanding of each other while Jodie Maybery has held down the defence in her return to the club. The biggest threat to the Warriors looks like coming from Dennington, which has assembled one of the tallest sides the competition has seen in recent years.
Coach Sue Fleming, Katie Burt, Kristie Bolden and Lani Barling can all play in either goal circle. Danielle McLeod is also yet to return.
Panmure is likewise impossible to discount. The Bulldogs have been cursed with unavailability this season but have possibly the best defensive pair in the league.
Emma Roache could be among the league best-and-fairest award leaders while Sally O’Keefe has proved an ideal sidekick.
Allansford, Kolora-Noorat and Timboon Demons have also impressed to date.
The pick of the trio is the Mel Harrop-coached Cats, who have only Stacy Rohan remaining from their 2013 side but have gelled better than most thought.
The next four weeks — against Dennington, Kolora-Noorat, Dennington and Panmure — will prove how close they are to the top echelon.
Of the others, Merrivale has disappointed results-wise but a few close matches have hurt the Tigers who should challenge sides above them in the coming weeks.
Russells Creek has a super defensive record but hasn’t been able to capitalise at the attacking end while Deakin University has shown good signs in patches.
South Rovers have battled somewhat after starting the season with much promise. And development has been the aims for Nirranda and East Warrnambool.
The Blues and Bombers are winless but play each other twice in the next three weeks.
Optimism that victory is close remains high.