Sport

It’s business time

By Gus McCubbing

No-one could wipe the grin off coach Linc Sullivan’s face after his side’s 25-point win against Lancaster on Saturday.

Nagambie veteran Danny Haysom, 31, celebrated his 200th club game in style with an important win and, moments after the final siren, Rebeka Prest rode the premiership coach’s horse, Top Prize, to a three-length victory in Echuca.

The Lakers didn’t make things easy for themselves with some poor goal-kicking preventing them from establishing an early ascendancy before a red card saw Trent Muir done for the day.

But Sullivan said he remained confident during the three-quarter huddle and focused on inspiring the players to get the win for Haysom after the side had also lost Tyrone Muir to an injury and Ben Robinson to a yellow card.

‘‘We needed to find another gear, so using his 200th game to pull at the heartstrings of some of the blokes was a good way to make them get up and perform well,’’ Sullivan said.

But a small tactical change was also made after the Lakers were reduced to 17 men, with Sullivan looking to isolate Michael Roberts deep in the forward line.

And while the Wombats got the jump on the home side early in the final term, with three quick goals, the new strategy paid dividends with the Lakers blowing the game apart through the last four majors.

‘‘I wanted to use him [Roberts] as a big figure down forward to kick towards,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘We were getting it in quickly from the stoppages through Anthony Haysom and Zac Winter-Irving,’’ he said.

‘‘So we didn’t adjust too much, but we went away from our normal run and carry straight from a stoppage to a quick kicking game to make it dangerous in the conditions.

‘‘But as soon as we lose players through send-offs, we rely heavily on our top handful of players like Ant and Zac, and they really started to step up today.

‘‘I think they’ve been our top two players for the past few weeks running, and today was just a standout for them both again.’’

And while Sullivan said Anthony Haysom — who has been in the Lakers’ two best 10 times this season — could well be the best player in the Kyabram District Football League, he also said it was important for the club to reflect on the contribution made by his older brother.

‘‘Winning for Danny today was unreal. He’s been a one-club player — born and bred in Nagambie and a terrific bloke,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘If he didn’t miss the 2014 Grand Final through a knee injury he would have been the only player, barring Mick Shiels, who played in five grand finals.

‘‘But he came back bigger and better the next year and was best and fairest at one point and vice-captain of the club.

‘‘So I’m delighted for him — 200 games and a win was a great result.’’

And while Danny Haysom was mainly happy to just grab another win, he said it was a nice occasion to reflect on a football career spent playing for Nagambie with people he has grown up with.

‘‘Lancaster played really well, but we just came good at the end there — the boys made a bit of an effort to put something on for me,’’ he said.

‘‘Linc had a quick word to me before the game and it does make you think how much you love playing for this club and all the weekends I’ve put in over the years, so I’m really happy it worked out this way.’’

Despite losing two of their first three games, the reigning premiers are now just one game behind second-placed Stanhope.

And beyond being a fitting way to celebrate Haysom’s milestone, Sullivan said it was vital to win so Nagambie could leapfrog Lancaster into third on the ladder as they drive towards the business end of the season.

‘‘I think in the top six set-up ... that top two position is a big advantage come finals,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve won the last few grand finals from the top two, so we want to finish there again this year ... and we probably need a few things to fall our way, but we’re doing everything we can.’’

The Nagambie Lakers take on Girgarre in an away game this weekend.

Scores:

Nagambie: 1.6, 3.10, 7.10, 12.10 (82).

Lancaster: 1.2, 3.5, 5.8, 8.9 (57).

Goals: A. Haysom 3, M. Roberts 2, Z. Winter-Irving 2, M. Waterson 2, D. Haysom, N. Fothergill, B. Hutton.

Best: A. Haysom, Z. Winter-Irving, M. Waterson, B. Hutton, B. Biggs, M. Roberts.