AN EIGHT-YEAR hiatus from finals football provided motivation for the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League’s dark horse to sound an ominous warning.
Timboon Demons’ long-awaited return to finals football delivered an imposing 15.12 (102) to 10.9 (69) defeat of perennial finalist Merrivale on Sunday.
Demons mentor Mick Hunt urged his men “to leave nothing in the tank” at quarter time in pursuit of a semi-final berth.
His charges delivered.
“I often say to the boys that there are moments in football, and tell them to take theirs when it arrives,” Hunt said.
“Our kids probably were a little overawed by the fact it was our first final in a long time, and the challenge for our senior players was to set the culture.
“We wanted to say ‘don’t be scared of games’. You’re here to play and win them, but if you don’t win them, you’re not disgraced.
“The words from me to my senior players was that it’s a hard job to win finals, but let’s set the trend, lead from the front and try to encourage that culture.”
With Merrivale playing coach Jason Rowan looming as a dangerous target, defender Sam Newey worked to push the spearhead wide.
Rowan was limited to three majors, but slotted key goals to keep the Tigers within reach prior to three quarter time.
Hunt praised Newey’s job on the champion goalkicker.
“I thought our situation across the backline worked out pretty well – we had that marking player who was drifting across all the time and they did a good job,” the long-time coach said.
“We probably had some good match-ups for us as well in the front half of the ground.
“But I thought our midfield – our three or four onballers – were as sharp as anyone on the ground.
“They played with passion and heart and were just fantastic.”
Hunt described spearhead Angus Robertson as a “ruck-rover forward” after his best-afield performance, but reserved praise for each of the Demons’ recruits.
He said his side was bracing for a “tough as hell” encounter with reigning premier Nirranda in next Sunday’s first semi-final.
“I think they had as much footy as Kolora-Noorat did in the qualifying final, but just didn’t kick the goals and the Power did,” Hunt said.
The first semi-final is set to be played at Noorat Recreation Reserve.