Saturday’s preliminary finals were just as hockey should be: skilful, spirited, entertaining and highly competitive. With the last grand final spots to be decided in these matches, all teams took to the field with a renewed determination.
Highlights of the day were the hotly contested B grade match between Tumut Red and Batlow Cavaliers, and the epic battle between Wynyard Wildcats and Hornets in the women’s A grade.
Minor premiers Wynyard Wildcats were determined not to be knocked out of contention, whilst new kids on the block Hornets were out to prove themselves as challengers for the 2015 A grade premiership title.
Outstanding performances from both sides provided nail biting excitement for onlookers, as teams went goal for goal. At the full time whistle, the score was deadlocked at 3 goals apiece, and the game went into extra time. With no deciding goal being scored, Wynyard Wildcats were declared the winners having enjoyed the top spot on the competition ladder from round 1. Whilst Hornets were disappointed with the outcome, the season was deemed a successful for this new squad, with plenty to look forward to in 2016.
Brilliant individual performances in this match from Annette Sutton, keeper Rebecca Connolly and Dani McGrath kept the Hornets efforts focused. For Wynyard Wildcats, Brooke Jeffery had another fantastic game, her second in a row, and helped make the difference in the Wynyard attack. Mel Thatcher was solid in goal and this week Naomi Sutton provided stability through the midfield for the Wildcats.
Tumut Red defeated Batlow Cavaliers in the B grade, with another close score reflecting an even match. Batlow scored in the first half with a well-executed goal from Jordan Minogue and managed to hold out the Red onslaught until half time. Excellent teamwork by Darcy Brennan and Sophia Kirkby set up Ryley Collins for another quick goal just after the break. The lead was short lived as Cavaliers conceded its two goal lead with Red quickly closing the gap with goals from Ben Jeffery and Jeremy Hannah.
Strong attacking play by Red in the final minutes of the game saw Batlow’s keeper Monique Fisher save half a dozen goal attempts from striker Tiana McGrath, however Red’s persistence wore a hold into Batlow’s defence and Tiana McGrath scored in the final minute of the match to secure Red a place in next week’s grand final. An excellent game of hockey by both teams, with great individual performances this week by Darcy Neill, Adrian O’Rourke and Jeremy Hannah for Red. For Batlow, experienced players Taylah Bowman, Amber Jones and Breanna Fisher made the difference this week, however Monique Fisher was outstanding in goal and was best on field for Cavaliers.
In the first match of the day, Tumut Woodpeckers defeated Batlow Hurricanes 3-0. Woodpeckers have shown a steady rate of improvement throughout the season, and their grand final debut is a reward for these kid’s efforts. Troy Taylor was a stand out for Tumut, continually clearing the ball from the fray. Ben Belt held position well, high in attack and was successful with two of the three goals for Woodpeckers.
Kasey McGrath, Katie Jeffery, Matilda Speerin and Jocelyn Haruki-Crane combined well in the midfield, whilst Patrick and Natalie Erbacher worked hard in defence. For Batlow, Charlie Kirkby teamed up well with cousin Kayla Haruki-Crane and super-sub Isobel Sillar showed great skill executing solid tackles. As always Rayleigh Gould was determined in her attack, and Ashley Christian had a strong game this week. Best for Batlow this week was Savannah Cooper, who has had an outstanding season in defence for Hurricanes and who will make a great addition to the B grade team next year.
In the mixed game Batlow Renegades defeated Tumut Thunder 3-1, with Thunder now rolling out of the 2015 finals series after a fantastic season. Batlow’s Aaron Fisher caused the majority of the damage for Thunder, carving up the field with several solo runs resulting in two goals. He was well supported by Caleb Francis, who also scored. Solid in defence was Veronica Britt, Jaimie McQuellin and Aylsa Murray. Darcy Brennan had an outstanding match and teamed up well with Breanna Fisher and Sophia Kirkby, all of whom were determined not to repeat the B grade result. Up front the triple threat of Andrea Kirkby, Georgia Rusconi and Alica Lee kept Thunder on their toes for the duration of the match. For Thunder, Tim O’Rourke and Andrew Purdy both enjoyed solid performances, whilst Declan McQuellin and Simon Smith worked hard throughout the midfield and defence. Adrian O’Rourke scored Thunder’s goal.
With the grand final matches this coming Saturday, hockey clubs, teams and supporters are encouraged to go all out in their colours to support their teams playing. Prizes are on offer for the best dressed supporter for all clubs/teams, so there’s still time to get creative.
Grand Final Draw for this Saturday 12 September:
9:30am Set up of Under 11 goals – Batlow
10am, Field 1 Under 11’s Tumut Woodpeckers v Adelong (Umpires Aaron Russell/Adrian O’Rourke); Canteen 10am Wynyard Wildcats; 10:45am Middy Mites
10:45am UNDER 11 PRESENTATION
10:45am Pack up of Under 11 goals – Batlow
11:20am, Field 1 B Grade Red v Konxions (Umpires Aaron Russell/Clara Dobbie); Canteen 11:30am Renegades; 12:15pm Crushers
12:45pm, Field 1 A Grade Wynyard Wildcats v Middy Mites (Umpires Lyn Bathgate/Mark Jones); Canteen 1pm Tumut Red; 1:45pm Konxions
2:25pm, Field 1 Mixed Renegades v Crushers (Umpires Mark Jones/Trish Whitburn);