Resurgent Warriors tackle Cats with an eye on bigger prize

DARYL Beechey understands that Old Collegians’ achievement to make Warrnambool and District league finals is worth celebrating.

Winless in 2013 and a battler in 2012, the Warriors’ rise has been one of the stories of the season. But Beechey knows the job is far from complete.

The sense of unfulfilment at finishing fifth, should they lose their elimination final against Allansford tomorrow, would linger throughout summer. “I reckon we’ve done the hard work to be honest,” Beechey said, when asked what gave him confidence of victory at Merrivale Recreation Reserve.

“Right through the pre-season, right through the year, getting to finals. But there’s still that sense the job isn’t finished.

“Blokes want to take it a step further: we’re not happy with where we’re at. That’ll drive us to go further. It’s a massive one this week.”

Beechey said there had been a “really good feel, plenty of hype” at Davidson Oval this week as the reality that the Warriors would play finals sunk in.

Their late-season form has been encouraging — they beat Allansford in round 15 and sent a scare through Panmure in round 17.

A heavy defeat to Merrivale in round 18 was unreflective of their form. They broke even with the Tigers in midfield but let themselves down entering attack.

“Something we knew we fell down on and something we’ve addressed is our forward-line entries. We didn’t make the most of them,” Beechey said. “Too many kicks going over the heads of forward or falling short. We’re not hitting them up. The blokes know the importance of that.”

Old Collegians made two changes for the clash, including ruckman Zac Pickett and onballer Matt Lynch for Joe Kenna and Vincent Fogarty.

Allansford recalled seven players but only omitted five, naming a six-man bench. They were to finalise their side after training last night.

Coach Josh Parkinson, Leatham Robe, Travis Membrey, Kye Bunworth, Jason Wilson, Rory Neeson and teenager Taylor Johnstone were the inclusions.

But former league medal winner Nick Johnstone will miss, with a doctor this week confirming he had a fracture in his lower right leg.

The Cats lost the 2013 elimination final to Dennington but Parkinson said they “were certainly in a much better place than last year”.

“Last year we absolutely limped in and had no confidence. As far as the last two games go we’ve had a chance to freshen up some guys,” he said. Parkinson said video footage of their early-season win against the Warriors had provided insight about how tomorrow could unfold.

He also took positives out of the round 15 defeat, suffered at the end of a day of injury carnage.

“Certainly the second time we played them it was a tight match. They’re a good side, they got us in the end,” he said. “We were pretty brave that day I thought. We had injuries, things didn’t go our way. We had chances to win and we couldn’t pull it off.”

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