2014 - Grand Finals - Preview
Saturday 13 September 2014
At Kaniva Recreation Reserve
Premierships up for grabs
Three hockey premierships are up for grabs this weekend when teams compete in Wimmera Hockey Association grand finals at Kaniva.
Four out of six clubs are represented although Yanac dominates with a team in each division.
Kaniva Raiders, Dimboola Women and Warracknabeal Hoops booked the first places in the grand finals when they won their qualifying semi finals two weeks ago. Yanac teams were minor premiers in each division but had to make it through the hard way after each losing their semi finals. Yanac’s three teams each won their preliminary finals last week to claim their places.
Sometimes the experience of a loss in the first round of finals has benefits with teams not underestimating their opponents when it comes to the all important final, and they are forced to keep their momentum going without the break.
Yanac club has the minor premiership in each of the open, women’s and junior divisions with Tigers, Yanac Women and Warriors each finishing the home and away season on top of their ladders.
Top two teams in all three divisions have made the grand finals.
Intensity will be key with teams needing to raise the bar on their home and away season performances and finals matches so far if they want to claim the major prize which is reserved for the elite.
Last year’s finals winners were Dimboola Women winning the hat-trick of premierships, Raiders had the back to back premierships, and Tigers won back to back premierships and all will come out strongly to try to defend their titles once again.
Kaniva Hockey Club will host the 2014 grand finals at the Kaniva Recreation Reserve hockey field.
Umpires for all three matches will be supplied by Hockey Victoria.
Presentations of premiership shields and medallions will made immediately following each match, including the presentation of the Best on Ground in the Grand Finals medallions.
Yanac club once again has a chance to be the first hockey club to win the trifecta of premierships in the Wimmera association. The Yanac club has had several chances to do this previously, with the most recent being only just last year. In each case they have managed one win or the double.
Yanac had a shot at it in 1987, but only the Warriors won. 1988 they had another shot but the women lost with the double going to Tigers and Warriors. They won the double in 1990 with Tigers and Women winning although Warriors didn’t play that final. 1991 all three Yanac teams were runners up and that was the last time all three Yanac teams played the grand final at the same time until last year of course 2013 when the Women and Warriors came runners up while the Tigers won.
A couple of clubs have had the double, but not the trifecta.
Warrack had the women’s and junior doubles in 1998, then Nhill did the same women’s and junior double in 1999, while the men’s comp was in recess during those years, so I guess that means they cleaned up in those years!
The last winning doubles for Yanac were the Tigers and Warriors in 2009 and 2010. Yanac and Warriors were both runners up last year 2013.
Depending on the finishing time of the junior grand final, a minkey session will be held on grand final day from 12pm on the hockey field.
In a repeat of the semi finals top two junior teams Yanac Warriors and Kaniva Raiders will meet in the junior grand final, from 10.30am.
Warriors finished the home and away season only 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 home and away encounter was a closer 2-0 still in favour of Warriors.
Raiders won the semi finals clash 10-9 after a marathon effort of 3 rounds of sudden death strokes.
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 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.
Raiders have won the back to back winning the last 2 premierships, with Warriors runners up for both of those, runners up for the last 3 years actually. Warriors last won in 2010. Warriors have won 8 and been runners up in 9 grand finals since 1984 when the juniors played a ‘B grade’ grand final. Raiders have won 4 out of 6 grand finals since reaching their first final in 2005.
Warriors have been the slightly stronger team this year and will be keen to assert that in this final. Raiders will fight hard for the premiership hat-trick and like the semi finals match this game should be close and could go either way.
In a repeat of the semi finals top two women’s teams Yanac Women and Dimboola Women will meet in the women’s grand final, from 1pm.
Yanac Women held onto their minor premiership by only a couple of points ahead of second placed Dimboola Women who delivered the top team its first loss for the season in the final home and away round, and then again in a second consecutive week when they met in the women’s qualifying semi final. During the season Yanac had 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 home and away encounter Dimboola was able to sneak ahead for a close 1-0 win. Dimboola were on fire in the semis getting the edge to take the win and the first grand final berth.
The win from semi finals 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 final. With Erin Alexander at centre half back and sister Anne Blackwood strong at full back, and equal top women’s division goal scorer Louise Bone firing at inner this will be a strong side. Caitlyn Smith has been a versatile player also playing a good half back and providing forward drive.
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.
During the home and away season Yanac had scored 57 goals compared to Dimboola’s 73, although Dimboola had 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.
Yanac has played in 13 grand finals since the WHA’s inception in 1974, winning only 3 of those, the latest premiership in 1990. Yanac was runner up last year.
Dimboola has played in 9 finals, winning 4. Since a runner up performance in 2003, Dimboola has won in 2004, then the hat trick from 2011 to 2013.
Dimboola will be keen to keep their premierships domination going but Yanac has a real chance to take their first premiership in over two decades home and they will fightly strongly and valiantly for that.
The teams have no weak links between them and this should be a good all over the field battle for the premiership.
In a repeat of the semi finals top two open teams Yanac Tigers and Warracknabeal Hoops will meet in the open grand final from 3pm.
Yanac Tigers were the only team across the three divisions to claim unbeaten status following the completion of home and away rounds. During the season Tigers beat Hoops 7-0 when Hoops were undermanned, then played a 1-1 draw, then Tigers won a close 4-3. Hoops beat Tigers a close 4-3 on strokes in the qualifying semi final which was Tigers’ first loss.
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 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.
Tigers have played in every grand final since they rejoined the WHA in 2006, playing in the last 8 grand finals, winning 6 of them including back to back for the last 2 which was the last one in 2013. Out of the last 9 years, Hoops have played in 6 grand finals and won one in 2007. Warrack has won 4 total in the WHA although they’ve played 14 including a B grade final. Out of 5 meetings in grand finals since 2006 Tigers have relegated Hoops runners up 4 times.
On paper Tigers should take the win but Hoops have the momentum at this end of the season and will be keen to try to balance out some history. With a great finals rivalry spanning many years this finals game could go either way. With a premiership up for grabs it will be a fast and furious match, great for spectators.
Good luck to all teams playing this round of finals. Play hard and play fair!
Hockey’s night of nights will follow the day’s grand finals, with the WHA Presentation Night and dinner to be held at the Kaniva Shire Hall from 7pm, following the WHA annual general meeting at 6.30pm. New executive for next season will be announced during the brief AGM. Best and fairest, umpiring awards, encouragement awards and goal scorer awards will be amongst presentations on the night. Kaniva Hockey Club is hosting the night.
WHA 40th anniversary
Wimmera Hockey Association as it stands today, is from 1974 to 2014, which sees its 40th anniversary this year. WHA will be celebrating with a cake, a brief presentation, and having some past members attend our grand finals and presentation night dinner next Saturday 13th September 2014. It was Horsham Women’s Hockey Association from 1951 to 1973 when it changed to ‘Wimmera’ due to the number of men and juniors playing in the competition by then.
- Rachel Clark, WHA Records Secretary 2014
Grand Finals Draw
Saturday 13 September 2014
At Kaniva Recreation Reserve
10.30am Yanac Warriors vs Kaniva Raiders
12pm – depending on junior grand final
1pm Yanac Women vs Dimboola Women
3pm Yanac Tigers vs Warrack Hoops