24 June, 2024

Fiercely contested matches in round seven

The Wimmera Hockey Association’s first visit to Yanac since last year's grand finals saw an intriguing round of matches, highlighting that almost all teams are still in the mix to play finals as the competition approaches the mid-point of the regular season.

By Simon King

Charles Hassall in full flight for the Horsham Hurricanes. PHOTO: SIMON KING
Charles Hassall in full flight for the Horsham Hurricanes. PHOTO: SIMON KING

The eight competition matches yielded six games decided by two goals or less, including two draws, and despite ending with larger margins, the remaining two games provided some entertaining hockey.

The soft grass fields at Yanac provided a different challenge for players and officials than those experienced the previous week on the artificial turf, and those who adapted quicker achieved better results.

- Open -

The Open division witnessed two fiercely competitive games, highlighting that this season is one of the most closely fought in recent years. With only two wins separating the top four teams and nine rounds still to go, all teams are still within reach of the finals.

On field one, the Kaniva Cobras and Yanac Tigers adapted to the conditions well to put on a top display of hockey, with their contrasting styles of play still effective. The Cobras' long hitting still successfully cleared the ball out of defence, but the soft surface made running after it more of a challenge, while the Tigers’ usual short passing power game also created attacking opportunities.

The statistics from the game suggest the Tigers dominated, earning fourteen penalty corners to the Cobras three, but they only converted one of these, which came with a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter for the first score for the match.

Kaniva’s equaliser came in the last quarter when Karl Glasgow got his stick onto a sharp shot to deflect the ball past the Tigers’ goalkeeper.

Yanac’s goal scorer, Brad Alexander, was named their best player, along with Jaidyn Honeyman and dependable veteran Simon Farmers. For the Cobras, defenders Clint Beattie and Adam Wallis joined Karl Glasgow as the standout performers.

The Tigers have long been the benchmark of the competition, and taking any points off them, even in the form of a draw, is still considered an achievement, and despite playing out three ties so far this season, they remain undefeated and on top of the ladder, while the Cobra are sitting comfortably in third place, just four points behind.

In another close and entertaining match, the Nhill Rangers looked to be heading for their first points on the field for the season when the last quarter started with scores tied at one goal each, but two late goals by the Horsham Hurricanes gave them the win.

Five minutes into the game, a Horsham goal opened the scoring, but just four minutes later, Rodney Reichelt scored the Ranger's first goal for the season to even the scorecard again.

Very even play followed, with both teams having plenty of shots at goal, but determined defence at both ends prevented any further scoring until a two-minute period in the last five minutes of the game, when the Hurricanes scored two unanswered goals to snatch the win, but not after a big scare from the Rangers.

Tom Batchelor scored two goals, and Lance McBride scored the other for the Hurricanes, with Batchelor, Hunter Knoop, and Paul Mackereth their best, and Jason Reichelt, Brett Tischler and Craig Schultz were the best for Nhill.

With the Warrack Hoops getting two points for the bye, the top four teams are now only separated by eight points, and even the fifth-placed Rangers are still within reach of the finals.

The Tigers remain on top but will have to ward off serious challenges from the Hoops and Cobras if they are to stay there.

- Women -

The top two teams in the Women’s competition are forging a strong rivalry with another classic encounter.

After four intense quarters of hockey, only one goal separated them, with Zoe Smith scoring for Kaniva just before halftime.

Despite Yanac having much of the play after the long break, highlighted by earning eleven of the twelve penalty corners awarded in the second half, they could not elude the Kaniva defence and the game ended without any further scoring.

Lisa Stimson and Imogen Williams played well for Kaniva, while regular contributors Erin Alexander, Mikayla Mackley, and Lexi Farmers dominated the midfield for Yanac.

Nhill Thunderbirds showed they are still in contention for a place in the finals with a solid win over the Horsham Jets. The win was set up by a three-goal second quarter, to which the Thunderbirds added another goal in each of the last two quarters to make the final margin five goals while they kept the Jets goalless.

Rachel Clark scored twice while Kendra Clark and Cally Shurdington were named as Kaniva’s best players, and dependable defender Launa Schilling was a stand-out for the Jets, with Hunter Knoop providing some much-needed speed on their forward line.

Dimboola Roos controlled most of the play against Warracknabeal, earning thirteen penalty corners to their opponents’ four, and this was reflected on the scorecard with the only five goals for the game. Leah Graham scored three goals in a best-on-ground performance, while the ever-reliable Jennie Hauselberger was solid on the half-back line.

Several of Warracknabeal’s younger players are beginning to feature regularly among their best players, showing some of their potential for the future, with Ellie Williamson and Madisson Bently named their best.

After these results, the top four teams are now separated by just two points, with Yanac in outright first place on twenty points, but Kaniva, the Roos and Jets are all on eighteen, and the Thunderbirds are not far behind in fifth place.

This suggests a captivating second half of the season with five teams still in serious contention to fill any of the top four positions in the finals, making every match significant.

- Under 16 -

The Under 16 competition is as close and entertaining as the two senior divisions. The top three teams are very evenly matched, and although there is a points gap between them and the remaining three on the ladder, the lower teams are still making their presence felt amongst the leaders.

The match-up between the two competition leaders provided a captivating and skilful display of hockey, in which the Kaniva Raiders took the lead early with a goal in the first quarter and, through possession hockey and some confident defending, maintained the lead until the Yanac Warriors broke through their defence early in the third quarter to equal the scores.

With the scores level going into the last quarter, it was Yanac who scored the last goal to win the game, but this could easily have gone either way.

Two goals to Archie Zanker, who continued his good form in front of goals this year, but it was Asher Zanker and Sean Pedie who were their best players. Charlie White scored the Raiders' only goal and was comfortably their best player, ahead of Reagan Williams.

The battle at the other end of the ladder was just as entertaining. The Dimboola Kangaroos earned their first win for the season, dominated by two goals and a best-on-ground performance by Jasper Ward, who had plenty of assistance from Victoria Ward and Logan Hauselberger, and for the Warrack Revengers, Noah Eilola scored their only goal and was their stand out player, along with Jack Di Pietro, on loan for the game from Horsham, and Caleb Peters.

Between this, the third-placed Nhill Leopards and fourth-placed Horsham Bombers played out a scoreless draw, with Deegan Clark and Hunter Knoop the best players for their respective teams.

In a rare result this season, this combination of results did not lead to any positional changes on the ladder.

However, the Warriors now hold the top spot outright but are still under pressure from the Raiders and Leopards, while the bottom three teams are all still in the running to claim the fourth place, with the incumbent team, the Bombers, the favourites to remain there, but will have to work hard if they are to do so.

Wimmera Hockey Association - Round Seven - Results

- Open -

Yanac Tigers 1 (Goal - B Alexander; Best - B Alexander, J Honeyman, S Farmers) drew with Kaniva Cobras 1 (Goal - K Glasgow; Best - C Beattie, A Wallis, K Glasgow)

Horsham Hurricanes 3 (Goals - T Batchelor 2, L McBride; Best - T Batchelor, H Knoop, P
Mackereth) defeated Nhill Rangers 1 (Goal - R Reichelt; Best - J Reichelt, B Tishler, C

Bye - Warrack Hoops

Pts GD
Yanac Tigers 20 11
Warrack Hoops 18 5
Kaniva Cobras 16 1
Horsham Hurricanes 12 -3
Nhill Rangers 4 -14

- Women -

Kaniva 1 (Goal - Z Smith; Best - L Stimson, I Williams, N Hutchins, J Braisby) d. Yanac 0 (Best - E Alexander, M Mackley, A Farmers)

Nhill Thunderbirds 5 (Goals - R Clark 2, S Keller, N Kuhnell, N Rowe; Best - K Clark, C Shurdington, R Clark) defeated Horsham Jets 0 (Best - L Schilling, H Knoop, A Heal)

Dimboola Roos 5 (Goals - L Graham 3, J Hauselberger, V Elliott; Best - L Graham, J Hauselberger, C Hadzig) defeated Warracknabeal 0 (Best - E Williamson, Madisson Bentley,
K Williamson)

Pts GD
Yanac Women 20 29
Kaniva Women 18 14
Dimboola Roos 18 7
Horsham Jets 18 4
Nhill Thunderbirds 10 -2
Warrack Women 0 -52

- Under 16 -

Yanac Warriors 2 (Goals - Archie Zanker 2; Best - Asher Zanker, S Pedie, L Cramer, Archie Zanker) defeated Kaniva Raiders 1 (Goal - C White; Best - C White, R Williams, L Williams,J Beattie)

Horsham Bombers 0 (Best - H Knoop, J Schwarz, C Blake) drew with Nhill Leopards 0 (Best - D Clark, O Bone, B Cannell)

Dimboola Kangaroos 2 (Goals - J Ward 2; Best - J Ward, V Ward, L Hauselberger) defeated Warrack Revengers 1 (Goal - N Eilola; Best - N Eilola, J DiPietro, C Peters)

Pts GD
Yanac Warriors 26 30
Kaniva Raiders 22 27
Nhill Leopards 18 17
Horsham Bombers 10 -15
Warrack Revengers 4 -27
Dimboola Kangaroos 4 -32

- Under 12 Development Program -

Warrack Avengers 3 (Goals - M Peters 2, Z Nuske) v. Dimboola Kookaburras 1 (Goal - C Wallace)

Yanac Lowan Stars 5 (Goals - S Farmers 3, E Alexander, C Alexander) v. Kaniva Rampagers 2 (Goals - A Bedford, D Stimson)

Horsham Black Hawks 0 v. Nhill Bandits 1 (Goal - B Clark)


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