|The Kaniva Cobras have earned a place in their first grand final with a two goal win over the Warrack Hoops in the Open division of the Wimmera Hockey Association, and the Yanac qualified for their fifth consecutive grand final with a win over the Horsham Jets in the Women’s preliminary final.
The Nhill Leopards earned the chance to defend the Under 16 title they won last year with a close victory over the Kaniva Raiders.
The Kaniva Cobras put in a more polished performance than their Warrack Hoops opponents in the Open division preliminary final to win their way into their first grand final.
Both teams created chances, with the Hoops implementing their short passing game well, but were unable to successfully complete any passages of play whilst the Cobras’ long hitting game was also not proving to be very successful in field play.
The difference proved to be penalty corners. Both teams earned four each, but it was the Cobras, through Lachlan Clark on both occasions, who capitalised but also their defence proved to be impenetrable at the other end, repelling all four attempts by the Hoops.
The better players for the Cobras included Lachie Mills, Lachlan Clark and Mat McDonald, and for the Hoops it was not surprising that it was their full backs Todd Krahe and Jack Dean who played well along with Jarrod Knoop.
Since joining the competition in 2007, the Cobras have only won two semi finals matches but have never qualified for a grand final. They now have the opportunity to challenge the Yanac Tigers for the 2017 title, and if they prove successful they will join the Warrack Men and Horsham as the only teams to win a premiership from their first grand final.
A goal in the first minute of the Women’s preliminary final by Yanac’s Louise Bone put the Horsham Jets on the back foot right from the start, and they were not able to recover. A second goal to Bone within 9 minutes of the half time break established a two goal lead which Yanac was able to maintain for the rest of the game.
The game did not reach any great heights as a spectacle, but the experienced Yanac team did just enough to prevent the Jets from scoring once they had gained the lead.
Bone added to her two goals with a best on ground nomination, and her team mates Carmel Beattie and Sheree Surdington also played well.
Under 16 player Serena Foot was the best player for the Jets, followed closely by experienced players Launa Schilling and Robyn Creek.
Yanac can now look forward to a meeting in the grand final with the Dimboola Roos who have only lost one game so far this season.
The Under 16 preliminary final involved the same teams as the 2017 grand final, and with a similar result the Nhill Leopards have earned the opportunity to defend their title with a hard fought victory over the Kaniva Raiders.
The first score came only five minutes into the game when Matthew Reichelt scored for the Leopards, but Luke Shalders equalled the scores a minute later.
Spirited attacking was matched by solid defence at both ends of the ground, with play highlighted by many shots at goal that missed by centimetres or were skilfully blocked by the defenders.
Before half time Emily Koop scored a second goal for the Leopards, to establish a slender one goal lead at the break.
Despite players becoming weary from the intense play, the second half was as gripping as the first with both teams creating opportunities but also defending strongly. Second goals to both Reichelt and Shalders ensured a one goal victory to the defending champions when the final whistle blew.
Koop, Reichelt and Blake Miller were named as the best players for the Leopards, and fullback Jimmy Mitchell, Tyson Mitchell and goalkeeper Hannah Braisby were the best for the Raiders.
With such an enthralling game in the preliminary final, the grand final next Saturday between the Leopards and the Warrack Revengers promises to be a must see encounter.
Preliminary Final Results
Kaniva Cobras 2 (Goals - L Clark 2; Best - L Mills, L Clark, M McDonald) defeated Warrack Hoops 0 (Best - T Krahe, J Dean, J Knoop)
Yanac Women 2 (Goals - L Bone 2; Best - L Bone, C Beattie, S Shurdington) defeated Horsham Jets 0 (Best - S Foot, L Schilling, R Creek)
Nhill Leopards 3 (Goals - M Reichelt 2, E Koop; Best - E Koop, M Reichelt, B Miller) defeated Kaniva Raiders 2 (Goals - L Shalders 2; Best - J Mitchell, T Mitchell, H Braisby)
Grand Final Preview
Open - Yanac Tigers v. Kaniva Cobras
It is difficult to tip against the Yanac Tigers when you look at the figures - this will be their 25th grand final in the 29 seasons that the Men’s/Open competition has been contested, from which they have won 14 premierships, and a victory on Saturday will give them three titles in a row for the second time. They are also undefeated so far this season, although they did draw three games including a three all tie with the Cobras in round 10.
In contrast, this will be The Kaniva Cobra’s first ever grand final.
Considering these respective records, the Tigers should win another premiership, but the Cobras have shown enough heart, particularly in their draw with the Tigers in round 10, to suggest that as they have nothing to lose they could easily cause an upset if they can maintain their composure and play to their full potential.
Head to Head so far this season -
Round 1 - Yanac Tigers 1 defeated Kaniva Cobras 0
Round 6 - Yanac Tigers 2 defeated Kaniva Cobras 1
Round 10 - Yanac Tigers 3 drew with Kaniva Cobras 3
Semi Final - Yanac Tigers 3 defeated Kaniva Cobras 0
As with the Tigers in the Open competition, the Dimboola Roos have earned the right to go into the Women’s grand final as favourites.
Only one loss so far this season and four premierships in the last six seasons demonstrate that they are a match winning combination, but they will come up against an opponent who can also boast considerable finals experience.
The Yanac Women have played in the last four grand finals and have won two titles in that time and they boast an experienced team list that knows how to win.
As Yanac was forced to forfeit their most recent encounter with the Roos in round 12, due to a lack of available players, these two teams have not played since the middle of June so it is difficult to predict how they will match up this weekend. Other results since then suggest that Dimboola has maintained their form but Yanac has also improved since then so a close encounter is anticipated.
Head to Head so far this season -
Round 2 - Dimboola Roos 4 defeated Yanac Women 2
Round 7 - Dimboola Roos 3 defeated Yanac Women 0
Round 12 - Dimboola Roos (5) defeated Yanac Women (0) by forfeit
The Nhill Leopards started the season strongly, losing only one game (to their grand final opponent) in the first eight rounds, but they only enjoyed four wins in the last seven rounds.
The Warrack Revengers lost their round one game, to the Leopards, but have only lost one other game since.
These records suggest that the Under 16 grand final will be a very close encounter, with the title going to the team that is able to settle their nerves quickly, concentrate on playing their best hockey and having all of their player contribute for the full game.
Head to Head so far this season -
Round 1 - Nhill Leopards 1 defeated Warrack Women 0
Round 6 - Warrack Revengers 2 defeated Nhill Leopards 0
Round 10 - Warrack Revengers 2 defeated Nhill Leopards 1
Semi Final - Warrack Revengers 3 defeated Nhill Leopards 1
Grand Finals - Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre - Saturday 9 September 2017
11.00 am - Under 16 - Warrack Revengers v. Nhill Leopards
1.00 pm - Women - Dimboola Roos v. Yanac Women
3.00 pm - Open - Yanac Tigers v. Kaniva Cobras
Wimmera Hockey Association Presentation Dinner
The annual Wimmera Hockey Association gala presentation dinner held on Saturday evening where, after crowning the champion teams of 2017 during the afternoon, the leading individuals will be recognized.
The Best and Fairest awards for the leading players in the Open, Women’s and Under 16 Boys and Girls will be announced, along with acknowledgment of the leading umpires, tech bench officials and other individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Association during 2017.