2014 - Semi Finals - Preview
Saturday 30 August 2014
Let the finals begin!
Wimmera Hockey Association finals campaigns will begin this weekend with Yanac Hockey Club hosting the first round of finals. The semi finals will be held on the grassy fields of Yanac with the top four teams in each of the three divisions competing.
Yanac club has secured the minor premiership in each of the open, women’s and junior divisions with Tigers, Yanac Women and Warriors each on top of their ladders. If they each made the grand finals they would be a chance to be the first hockey club to win the trifecta of premierships in the Wimmera association.
The top four positions in each division had not changed for the final five consecutive home and away rounds. Winning margins are generally tightening at this end of the season as some teams are gaining momentum while others have been plagued by injuries and unavailable players.
Fitness of teams could be a factor if the weather is warm like it was last week and could affect outcomes, especially if it comes down to the last 10 minutes of play.
Yanac Warriors and Kaniva Raiders will play the junior qualifying final. Warriors have finished a game ahead of Raiders on the ladder. Raiders won the first encounter 3-0 but Warriors came back with a vengeance defeating an undermanned Raiders 9-0. The last encounter was a closer 2-0 still in favour of Warriors. At this point the Warriors are looking like a stronger team but if Raiders have a couple of strong players back in the side it will even the odds. Raiders and Warriors each have several strong players including the girls who can hold their own. Raiders have two of the junior division’s top goal scorers in Kylan Hendy and Lachie Mills, while Warriors are not far behind with Jaidyn Honeyman and Todd Alexander. Warriors also have some top female scorers in Shanaye Alexander and Sophie Pipkorn to watch out for. Another high scorer Kaitlyn Miller may or may not play finals depending on an injury. Luke Shalders and Jaden Hendy will also be valuable contributors for Raiders all over the field. Zachary Dorrington is another top contributor for Warriors. Warriors have only conceded 5 goals for the home and away season, compared with 20 for Raiders. Warriors have acquired the services of skilful ‘ninja’ goalie Brittany Keam who last year played in the Raiders premiership team.
Third placed Warrack Revengers and fourth placed Nhill Leopards will play the junior elimination final. Only two points separate the two teams on the ladder. Revengers have beaten Leopards 1-0 and then 2-0 during the season. Revengers have been well served by Colin Taylor as a consistent full back this year, providing opportunities to push forward to forward Jack Dean who is amongst the top five scorers in the junior division. Leopards have their own consistent full backs in Lachie Wilde and Victoria Janetzki, however of course this game will come down to which team can score the goals. Although Revengers have one of the top scorers, the Warrack team has scored 39 compared with Leopards who have scored 47 between them. Both defences have been consistent with a similar number of goals against each. This game could go either way depending on who really wants to continue their finals campaign.
Yanac Women held onto their minor premiership by only a couple of points ahead of second placed Dimboola Women who delivered the top team their first loss for the season in the final home and away round. The teams will meet for a second consecutive week but this week has a grand final berth up for grabs as they play the women’s qualifying final. Yanac won a close 3-2, then they played a 1-1 draw, then Yanac won 3-0. With Yanac missing a couple of their top players in the last encounter Dimboola was able to sneak ahead for a close 1-0 win. If any finals could go either way this would be one of them. The win last week will boost the confidence of Dimboola, however Yanac has been a stable side this year, and they now have some quality finals match experience from last year and will be a tough competitor this round of finals. With Erin Alexander and sister Anne Blackwood back this week and equal top women’s division goal scorer Louise Bone firing again at inner this will be a strong side. Dimboola has the very strong and hard hitting Elizabeth Klinge strongly directly play from centre half back and together with sister Jennifer Klinge providing drive at inner, and two of the women’s division’s equal top goal scorers in Annabel Askin and Kelly Smithyman, this team will be very competitive. Yanac has scored 57 goals compared to Dimboola’s 73, although Dimboola has conceded 20 compared to Yanac’s low 7 with help from skilful goalie Brittany Keam who has played concurrently with the Yanac juniors and women this year.
Third placed Nhill Thunderbirds will battle fourth placed Horsham Highlanders in the women’s elimination final. Thunderbirds are ahead in each department of goals statistics. Highlanders won 4-3, then played a 2-2 draw, then Thunderbirds won 4-2. Strong half backs Launa Schilling and Robyn Creek have returned to the Horsham side since the last encounter from an overseas trip and injury and this could be a key factor in the outcome of this finals match. Both were absent in the lost game. Highlanders also have strength in young Lucy O’Connor who has been a consistent half back and captain Mikaela Turvey providing drive on the forwardline. Nhill’s fast forwardline led by captain Stephanie Daly, Leah Hawker, and Lauren Bendall are backed by strong centre half back Emma Janetzki and the versatile Wendy Crowhurst who is clever at either half back or forward. Both teams could be featuring junior players to boost numbers and this could be a battle of wills and fitness, especially if the day is warm like last week.
Yanac Tigers are the only team across the three divisions to claim unbeaten status following the completion of home and away rounds and will play second placed Warrack Hoops in the open qualifying final. Tigers have beaten Hoops 7-0 when Hoops were undermanned, then played a 1-1 draw, then Tigers won a close 4-3. With a great finals rivalry spanning many years this finals game could go either way. With a grand final berth up for grabs it will be a fast and furious match, great for spectators. Hoops boast the highest goal scorer in the open division in Marcus Williamson but the team also has plenty of scoring options. Tigers also have plenty of capable scorers. The biggest difference in the match may come down to the defence, with Tigers only conceding 6 goals for the home and away season with great defence by goalie Murray Miller, while Hoops have had 23 scored against them. Nathan Alexander has been a consistent director of play from centre half back for Tigers this season, and will be a key factor in their match. Hoops Paul Slater is a forward player to watch.
Third placed Kaniva Cobras will play fourth placed Dimboola Men in the open elimination final. Cobras have won 6-1 and 2-1, 1-0. Dimboola won the last encounter a few weeks ago 4-1. Dimboola has the second highest goal scorer in the open division in Nathan Jorgensen, who together with his brother Tim have accounted for the majority of the best on ground awards for Dimboola. Together with the return of James Klinge in time to qualify and a strong defence including talented female goalie Ellie Woods the Dimboola side is firing at the right end of the season and will put in a great effort to keep their finals campaign alive. Cobras right half back Braden Clark and centre half back Clint Beattie who each scored in last week’s close win will need to fire for the team, which has been plagued by injuries and shorter numbers in recent weeks. The possible return of playing coach Mathew McDonald, recently out with injury, would boost the side.
Good luck to all teams playing finals. Play hard and play fair.
- Rachel Clark, WHA Records Secretary 2014
Semi Finals Draw
Saturday 30 August 2014
9.30am Yanac Women vs Dimboola Women
11.30am Warrack Revengers vs Nhill Leopards
1.30pm Nhill Thunderbirds vs Horsham Highlanders
3pm Yanac Tigers vs Warrack Hoops.
11.30am Kaniva Cobras vs Dimboola Men
1.30pm Yanac Warriors vs Kaniva Raiders
* Please note that the Tigers / Hoops match is set to start at 3pm, as soon as the women's match before it has finished, to hopefully get finished before we lose too much light.