|The Open division first semi final between the Warrack Hoops and the Dimboola Burras was the only game that required extra time to decide a winner in the Wimmera Hockey Association semi final round on the pristine grass of Nhill’s Davis Park on Saturday, but all six games had the anticipated passion of teams striving to remain in the race for the title.
The Yanac Tigers qualified for their twelfth consecutive grand final with a three goal win over the Kaniva Cobras, who will now meet the Warrack Hoops who fought out a tough three goals to two extra time win over the Dimboola Burras, in the preliminary final next week.
It took a full game of intense hockey plus 20 minutes of extra time to separate the Warrack Hoops and the Dimboola Burras in the Open division first semi final.
The Burras took the early initiative and confined the ball to their attacking half for the first couple of minutes of the game but were unable to score, however after this initial burst the Hoops showed their composure and the balance of the action moved to their end of the ground but once again the defence held strong and by half time neither team had scored.
The Hoops were first on the scorecard ten minutes after the resumption of play when Cameron Bardell received the ball from a field flick from Marcus Williamson at the centre line and was able to slip the ball past the defenders.
Another ten minutes later, after a solid save by the Hoops’ goal keeper Russell Brown, Lachlan Schultz trapped the rebounding ball and hit it into the goal to even the scores.
Intense play by both teams created many scoring opportunities but these were all matched by strong defence and the scores remained at one all at the call of full time.
The tie breaking process started with two periods of ten minutes of extra time and it was the Hoops who with the resources of a full complement of players on the interchange bench took control and with goals to both Jordan and Marcus Williamson they finished the first period of extra time with the lead.
The pressure built when the Burras’ captain Caleb Halsall scored less than two minutes into the second period of extra time, but the persistent Hoops’ attack and coordinated defence allowed them finish ahead and progress to the preliminary final next week.
Talor Dent of the Burras was the standout candidate for the best on ground honours and defender Brett Tischler, goal keeper Ellie Woods and forward Beau Lovett were the other Dimboola players to get the votes.
The best players for the Hoops included inside forward Royce Bennett, Marcus Williamson who continued his consistent season, under 16 player Sandon Schultz and Brown.
The Yanac Tigers maintained their unbeaten record for the 2017 season with a victory over the Kaniva Cobras and in the process have earned the opportunity to play off for a fifteenth premiership for the team.
Above - The Kaniva Cobras set to defend a penalty corner. - photo by John O’Dwyer.
The game was a scrappy affair but the Tigers enjoyed more of the play and despite some strong defence by Kaniva, the sheer number of attacking moves eventually yielded three goals to the Tigers, with Brad Alexander scoring twice and Josh Cramer once.
The better players for the Tigers included Simon Farmers, Brad Alexander and Seth Croot, whilst Lachlan Clark, Lachie Mills, Duncan Shalders and Dave Cole stood out for the Cobras.
Despite this loss the Cobras have another chance to qualify for their first grand final when they take on the Warrack Hoops in the Open preliminary final next Saturday.
The Dimboola Roos continued their dominance of the Women’s competition and have moved directly into the grand final with a four goals to two win over the Horsham Jets, and the Yanac Women remain in the race for the title with a three goal win over the Kaniva Women who were playing in their first final since 2006.
The Roos took control of their game against the Horsham Jets early and were two goals ahead by half time after Adina King and Elizabeth Klinge both scored in the first half.
After the break a goal to Jennifer Klinge and another to King extended the lead to four goals, before the Jets were able regroup and in a late challenge scored two goals, both to Launa Schilling, but they had left their run too late and ran out of time to catch the Roos.
Jennifer Klinge, Rebecca Lovett and Elizabeth Klinge stood out for the winning team and Sophie Robinson, Carmel McFarlane, Schilling and Robyn Creek were named best for the Jets.
The other semi final was an encounter between two teams that have proven to be evenly matched all season, with one victory each and a draw in their three previous encounters.
On this occasion it was Yanac‘s finals experience that was the difference.
Strong Kaniva defence led by Rachel Clark and Sharon Williams repelled a number of scoring attempts but the first goal came off Susan Hedt’s stick for Yanac mid way through the first half, and a second goal came before half time when Carmel Beattie converted a short corner.
After the break Mikalya Farmers added a third goal for Yanac, and her team mates in the back line were able to repel all Kaniva attempts to score, leaving the result as a comfortable win to Yanac.
Yanac centre half back Shanaye Alexander dominated the mid field and centre forward Louise Bone and inside forward Kaitlyn Miller played well in attack.
For Kaniva, regular contributors Clark and Williams were joined by Cally Shurdington as their team’s best players.
These results set up a preliminary final between the Horsham Jets and Yanac Women which are two teams that have shown inconsistent form this year, so it will be difficult to pick a favourite as the winner will be the team that not only assembles their best playing roster on the day but who click together as a team for the full seventy minutes of play.
The evenness of the 2017 Under 16 competition continued with two very close semi final games.
The Warrack Revengers booked a place in their first grand final since they won the title in 2011 with a win in a close game against the Nhill Leopards.
Lachie Klemm opened the scoring for the Revengers six minutes into the game with a pass across the circle which was deflected off a defender’s stick into the goals, but this was matched ten minutes later by Leopard Emily Koop who eluded the Revengers defence and found the goals.
The Revengers reclaimed the lead soon after with a goal by Sandon Schultz and the following even passages of play allowed them to go into the half time break with a one goal advantage.
Klemm scored for a second time after receiving a pass from Jayden Smith mid way through the second half, whist solid defence at the other end of the ground prevented the Leopards from adding to their score.
Schultz was named as the Revengers best player ahead of Oskar Bennett, Justin Heeps and Faith Eilola.
For the Leopards it was Sharma Delaney, Jason Reichelt, Emily Koop and goal keeper Kayden Rowe.
The Kaniva Raiders are still in the running for a place in the grand final after they finished ahead of the Dimboola Kangaroos in a very even first semi final game.
Both teams created chances and earned numerous penalty corners and it was on Kaniva’s fourth attempt at a short corner that Luke Shalders was able to breach the Dimboola defence.
Shalders added another goal in the second half to extend the lead, and their luxury of a full complement of four players on the interchange bench, compared to the Kangaroos’ two, gave them more options as the key players fatigued late in the game and they were able to maintain this lead to the end.
Raiders’ fullback Jimmy Mitchell was the undisputed nomination for the best player on the ground, with Shalders and Olivia Williams also playing well.
Brad Walker, Rebekah Albrecht and Teo Haines all played strong games for the Kangaroos.
The preliminary final will be between the Nhill Leopards and the Kaniva Raiders in the same match up as the grand final last year, but only one of these teams can now play off in the same game this year. The Leopards have shown more consistent form throughout the season, but after playing in the last five season deciders the Raiders line up has a wealth of finals experience, so this too will be a close contest.
Semi Final Results
Yanac Tigers 3 (Goals - B Alexander 2, J Cramer; Best - S Farmers, B Alexander, S Croot) defeated Kaniva Cobras 0 (Best - L Clark, L Mills, D Shalders, D Cole)
Warrack Hoops 3 (C Bardell, M Williamson, J Williamson; Best - R Bennett, M Williamson, R Brown, S Schultz) defeated Dimboola Burras 2 (Goals - L Schultz, C Halsall; Best - T Dent, B Tischler, E Woods, B Lovett) in extra time (1-1 at full time)
Dimboola Roos 4 (Goals - A King 2, E Klinge, J Klinge; Best - J Klinge, R Lovett, E Klinge) defeated Horsham Jets 2 (Goals - L Schilling 2; Best - S Robinson, C McFarlane, L Schilling, R Creek)
Yanac Women 3 (Goals - S Hedt, C Beattie, M Farmers; Best - S Alexander, L Bone, K Miller) defeated Kaniva Women 0 (Best - R Clark, S Williams, C Shurdington)
Warrack Revengers 3 (Goals - L Klemm 2, S Schultz; Best - S Schultz, O Bennett, J Heeps, F Eilola) defeated Nhill Leopards 1 (Goal - E Koop; Bes - S Delaney, J Reichelt, K Rowe, K Koop)
Kaniva Raiders 2 (Goals - L Shalders 2; Best - J Mitchell, L Shalders, O Williams) defeated Dimboola Kangaroos 0 (Best - B Walker, R Albrecht, T Haines)
Preliminary Finals - Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre - Saturday 2 September 2017
11.00 am - Under 16 - Nhill Leopards v. Kaniva Raiders
1.00 pm - Women - Horsham Jets v. Yanac Women
3.00 pm - Open - Kaniva Cobras v. Warrack Hoops