|A burst of wintry weather greeted the Wimmera Hockey Association players and officials as they took the fields at Nhill and Kaniva on Saturday for round eight, but this did not dampen enthusiasm as teams continue to jostle for a place in the finals.
The action at the top of the Open ladder is heating up, with the Warrack Hoops becoming the first opponent to take points off the Yanac Tigers this season in the clash of the top two teams, and the Dimboola Burras scoring a comfortable win over the Kaniva Cobras to consolidate their grip on third place.
The lower half of the ladder is also witnessing some strong competition with all three teams still well in the race to fill a place in the finals.
The long tradition of tough entertaining hockey when the Warrack Hoops and Yanac Tigers meet continued with another hard-fought encounter between these Open division heavyweights
The damp conditions did not diminish the intensity of the game, with the Hoops enjoying more possession of the ball in the first half which was rewarded when they took the lead on the scoreboard through a goal by Marcus Williamson 21 minutes into the game.
Despite going into the second half down by a goal, the Tigers increased the pressure but the Hoops continued to repel all attacking moves, including successfully defending four penalty corners.
A fifth Tigers’ penalty corner for the half was earned seven minutes before the end of the game, and a solid hit by veteran Kim Croot eluded both the Hoops’ fullback and goalkeeper to even the scores.
The remaining seven minutes of play continued at the same pace, with both teams mounting strong attacking moves but effective defending prevented any further scoring.
This drawn result, the Tigers first game they have not taken a win from since late last season sees them remain comfortably ten points ahead of the Hoops, who in turn remain clear in second place, two points ahead of the Dimboola Burras.
The best players for the Tigers all spent the game in the mid-field, with Todd Alexander, Luke Reichenbach and Matt Higgins all earning a positive review from the umpires, whilst defenders Cameron Bardell, Marcus Williamson and Hamish Wagenknecht were the stand out performers for the Hoops.
The Dimboola Burras have kept the pressure on the top two with a comfortable win at Kaniva against the home team.
Lachlan Schultz earned the half time lead for the Burras with a goal after 22 minutes of even play with both teams looking dangerous in attack but also solid in defence.
Although Duncan Shalders goaled for the Kaniva Cobras twenty minutes after play resumed to even the scores, the Burras were showing more endurance and began to take control of the game, and in the remaining 15 minutes of the game , two goals to Tim Jorgensen and another to Schultz gave them a comfortable lead.
A goal by Lachie Mills in the last minute of the game gave the Cobras a valuable boost to their goal difference, but was not enough to earn them the points as the Burras enjoyed a four goals to two win.
Schultz and Mills were judged as their respective team’s best players.
A return to the top four was the reward for the Nhill Rangers after they overcame a spirited Horsham Hurricanes in the last game of the day on Davis Park.
A shot by Jordan Mills was the only to find the goals in the first half, giving the Hurricanes confidence as they returned to the field for the second half.
Former Horsham player Darren Schwarz evened the scores five minutes later and Chris Hauselburger goaled from a penalty corner to put the Rangers ahead before a Tom Roberts’ goal drew the scores level again.
Above - Players from the Nhill Rangers and Horsham Hurricanes tackle the challenging conditions at Davis Park in Nhill on Saturday afternoon.
Two goals by Nhill’s Blake Miller in the last ten minutes of play could not be matched by the Hurricanes and the Rangers earned their second win for the season, and along with two drawn results has them back in the top four at the half way point in the season, replacing the Cobras.
The Hurricanes remain on the bottom of the ladder, but are still within reach of fourth place with seven games remaining.
The Nhill Thunderbirds are quietly consolidating their grip on third place on the ladder, with a solid performance against the Horsham Jets in a high scoring encounter which defied the damp and cold conditions.
Four goals in the first half set up the Nhill victory, and even a hat-trick of scores by Belinda Clements of the Jets after half time was not enough to get her team over the line. Ellie Murden led the Thunderbirds scoring with two of her team’s final tally of five, and was also named as their best player ahead of Kellie Farquharson and Kendra Clark.
Launa Schilling continues to enjoy a successful season at centre half back for the Jets and Sarah O’Connor and Bonnie Brooks also played well.
In a game in which a total of eleven penalty corners were awarded, it was two field goals in the first half, by Jennifer Klinge and Kelly Smithyman, that put the Dimboola Roos ahead and it was another field goal by Kell Smith in the second half that kept Kaniva in the game.
Although the Roos dominated the attacking statistics, particularly after half time, they were not able to fully control the game, with Kaniva a chance until the final whistle.
The better players for Dimboola included Jennifer Klinge and Jennie Hauselberger, whilst Oliva Williams and Heidi White controlled the game for Kaniva.
This win keeps Dimboola in touch with the ladder leading Yanac, and despite the loss, Kaniva remain in the top four.
Warracknabeal was unable to field a team and forfeited their scheduled game to Yanac which keeps the reigning premieres clear on top of the Women’s ladder.
Those involved in the Under 16 games bore the brunt of the weather, with rain falling as they ran onto the already damp grounds in the very cold conditions, but some intriguing games still resulted despite very few players mastering the conditions.
The Yanac Warriors continue to be undefeated after eight games this season, but the Warrack Revengers scored a minor victory when they restricted the reigning premiers to eight goals, below their season average of nine goals per game.
Mikayla Famers has been in striking form so far this year, and continued this despite the heavy ground to be nominated as the Warriors’ best player after scoring half of their goals, and Jasper Croot, Rourky Croot and Chloe Zanker also played well.
The play makers for the Revengers were Heath Johns, Leah Eilola, Ben Williamson and Faith Eilola
On the other field at Nhill, the home team gained the early lead with goals to Jiah Clark and Isaac Deckert before half time, which were matched by only one goal off the stick of Kristina Schwarz of the Bombers.
Midway through the second half Ben Woodhart goaled to even the scores, and with his team mate John Crockford the only other to find the goals, the game ended in a one goal win for the Bombers, and although they remain fifth on the ladder they are now level on points with the fourth placed Leopards.
The defensive combination of Kendra Clark, Alison Miller and goalkeeper Kayden Rowe kept the Leopards in the game, fending off many more scoring attempts that found their way into the goals, and Bonnie Brooks, Lars Simmons and John Crockford combined well in the midfield for the Bombers.
At Kaniva the home team scored five goals to overcome a brave Dimboola Kangaroos who defended boldly. The scores could have been much higher considering the Raiders earned twenty penalty corners for the game, but determined work by an under-manned Dimboola team kept the scoring in check.
Two goals to Max Goodwin was a contributing factor to him being named best on the ground, ahead of Skye Braisby and Nadia White, and Thomas Krelle, Chloe Baker and Will Abbott all tried hard for the whole game for the Kangaroos.
Under 12 Development Program
Due to the inclement weather, the game between the Warrack Avengers and Yanac Lowan Stars was cancelled, but the Nhill Bandits and Horsham Black Hawks teams took the field in the rain at Davis Park in a game that finished in a three goal win to the Bandits.
At Kaniva the Rampagers finished two goals ahead of the Dimboola Kookaburras.
The Wimmera Hockey Association has the last of their in-season whole competition byes next weekend before the final seven rounds leading into the finals in August and September.
However four talented locals will not be enjoying a break as they travel to Melbourne to play in the Victorian Junior State Championships from Tuesday to Friday this week.
This competition involves teams representing ten zones from both metropolitan and country Victoria, with the Wimmera Hockey Association falling within the North West Lighting’s region. There is also the opportunity for players who fail to gain selection for their local team making themselves available to boost the player numbers for other zones that may be struggling to field a full team.
Kai Dodson has been selected as a goalkeeper in the Under 13 North West Lightning squad and Tom Roberts will represent the Lightning, Cade Dodson will play for the South West Eagles and Stuart Hallett, who has been training in Melbourne, will join the metropolitan Southern Sharks, all in the under 18 division.
All four play their local hockey with the Horsham club, with Kai filling the role of goalkeeper for the Horsham Bombers in the Under 16 competition, and the remaining three regularly taking to the field for the Horsham Hurricanes in the Open division.
Round Eight Results
Yanac Tigers 1 (Goal - K Croot; Best - T Alexander, L Reichenbach, M Higgins) drew with Warrack Hoops 1 (Goal - M Williamson; Best - C Bardell, M Williamson, H Wagenknecht)
Nhill Rangers 4 (Goals - B Miller 2, D Schwarz, C Hauselburger; Best - B Miller, Mont Miller, J Reichelt) defeated Horsham Hurricanes 2 (Goals - T Roberts, J Kube; Best - P Mackereth, T Roberts, J Kube)
Dimboola Burras 4 (Goals - L Schultz 2, T Jorgensen 2; Best - L Schultz, C Baldock, B Tischler) defeated Kaniva Cobras 2 (Goal - L Mills, D Shalders; Best - L Mills, D Shalders, A Wallis)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Nhill Thunderbirds 5 (Goals - E Murden 2, K Farquharson, E Keneally, R Clark; Best - E Murden, K Farquharson, K Clark) defeated Horsham Jets 3 (Goals - B Clements 3; Best - L Schilling, S O’Connor, B Brooks)
Dimboola Roos 2 (Goals - J Klinge, K Smithyman; Best - J Klinge, J Hauselberger, B McMaster, K Smithyman) defeated Kaniva 1 (Goal - K Smith; Best - O Williams, H White, J Wallis, K White)
Yanac (5) defeated Warracknabeal (0) by forfeit
| ||Pts|| GD|
Yanac Warriors 8 (Goals - M Farmers 4, Caleb Zanker, Chloe Zanker, A Farmers, J Croot; Best - M Farmers, J Croot, R Croot, Chloe Zanker) defeated Warrack Revengers 0 (Best - H Johns, L Eilola, B Williamson, F Eilola)
Horsham Bombers 3 (Goals - J Crockford, K Schwarz, B Woodhart; Best - B Brooks, L Simmons, K Schwarz) defeated Nhill Leopards 2 (Goals - J Clark, I Deckert; Best - K Clark, K Rowe, A Miller)
Kaniva Raiders 5 (Goals - M Goodwin 2, I Williams, S Braisby, N White; Best - M Goodwin, S Braisby, N White) defeated Dimboola Kangaroos 0 (Best - T Krelle, C Baker, W Abbott)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Under 12 Development Program
Nhill Bandits 3 (Goals - V Maloney 2, T Shue; Encouragement Award - M Lowe) defeated Horsham Black Hawks 0
Kaniva Rampagers 2 (Goals - C White, A Ahmad) defeated Dimboola Kookaburras 0