|Despite the results of all games reflecting current ladder positions, round nine of the Wimmera Hockey Association was not dull as teams jostle to earn a place in the finals.
After three full-competition byes in the last eight weeks, the Association has entered a seven week uninterrupted run to the finals which will see some season-defining clashes contested over the next few rounds.
The round commenced in very chilly conditions on Friday evening at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre with the Dimboola Burras taking on the Nhill Rangers, and although the scores suggest an easy win for the home team, on the field it was far from it.
Strong Nhill defence repulsed many attacking moves by Dimboola until the 20 minute mark, when the Burras scored the first of two goals in the first half, and although the Rangers earned a number of penalty corners, they were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.
A Nhill goal half way through the second half through a strong hit from Chris Hauselburger and some brilliant goal keeping by Murray Miller kept the Rangers in the game, but two more goals set up the win for the Burras.
The win keeps Dimboola in touch with the top two, and despite the loss, Nhill remain in the top four after the round, but with four games against current top three teams in their last six games they will have to play well if they are to extend their season into the finals for the first time since 2013.
On Saturday evening the Yanac Tigers continued their dominance with a clinical six goal win over the Kaniva Cobras. Goals within the first five minutes of each half and one in the last minute of the game highlighted the danger of this Yanac combination that can maintain pressure for the whole seventy minutes of the game.
Three goals to Nathan Alexander earned him the best-on-ground votes, whilst Connor Williams and Dave Cole played well for the Cobras.
The Warrack Hoops remain in second place on the ladder after a tight two goal win over the Horsham Hurricanes.
Both halves of this game saw some very even play, with the Hoops gaining the advantage with two goals before half time.
Persistent attacking from the Hurricanes created a couple of errors in defence by the Hoops which presented opportunities to reduce the margin, but great agility by goal keeper Russell Brown on the goal line prevented any scoring. Marcus Williamson and Ben Williamson both excelled for the Hoops whilst Reece Slater and goalkeeper Ross Mueller kept the Hurricanes in the game.
Although they remain on the bottom of the ladder, the Hurricanes have a number of winnable games in their last six and have their final’s fate in their own hands.
The Dimboola Roos set up their victory over the Nhill Thunderbirds on Friday evening with a dominating six goals in the first half through strong team work, good passing and capitalising on penalty corners.
Nhill came out strongly in the second half, scoring two goals and defending strongly, keep the game alive, but in the end although the Roos were restricted to only one more goal after half time they still finished the game ahead by seven goals to two, keeping them just one game behind the ladder leading Yanac team.
The first Women’s game on Saturday afternoon saw Kaniva take the game right up to the competition leading Yanac, restricting them to only one goal before half time, which came from a field goal by Shanaye Alexander.
Erin Alexander controlled the mid-field for Yanac with good support from Mikayla Farmers but Kaniva defender Sharon Williams and goalkeeper Emily Hicks held strong in defence, curbing Yanac’s regular free scoring game.
After the break Yanac constantly attacked, earning nine penalty corners, in addition to the seven in the first half, and when Farmers converted one of these it set the final result as a two goal win for Yanac, maintaining their place at the top of the ladder.
The most significant game of the round was the clash between the bottom two teams, with Warracknabeal still looking for their first win for 2019, and the Horsham Jets struggling to make a serious challenge for a place in the finals.
Warracknabeal scored a minor ’victory’ when Ruth McNamara scored her team’s first goal for the season, particularly after the disappointment earlier in the game when they got the ball across the goal line only to have it not register as a score due to an infringement just before the ball crossed the line.
Unfortunately at the other end of the field Horsham regular Launa Schilling scored three goals, Querida Williams scored two and Serena Foot one, to give the Jets a strong six goals to one victory, allowing them to slip into the top four, but only by goal difference ahead of Kaniva.
The feature game in the Under 16 competition was the meeting of the top two teams, and although the Yanac Warriors kept their unbeaten run intact, the Raiders did restrict them to one of their smallest winning margins so far this season, of just six goals.
Caleb Zanker was the only multiple goal scorer with two of the Warriors’ six and he was also named as their best player, whilst Skye Braisby and Max Goodwin were nominated as the Raiders best.
The Dimboola Kangaroos continue to defy their lowly position on the ladder by pushing higher ranked teams, and on this occasion it was the Nhill Leopards that had to work hard for the win to keep themselves in the top four.
Caitlin Rowe and Cory Koop both scored two goals each for the Leopards, and Will Abbott and Chloe Baker continue to give sterling service for the Kangaroos.
The Warrack Revengers fought of a serious challenge from a spirited Horsham Bombers team to retain their grip on third place on the ladder and remain in the race for a top two finish.
Ben Williamson and Heath Johns once again formed the backbone for the Revengers, but three goals by Cooper Mills and one to youngster Noah Eilola, in the team total of six, show that the team is developing some depth and can rely on significant input from other players.
The Bombers remain a serious finals challenger despite this loss, with John Crockford, Bonnie Brooks and Serina Foot their stand-out players and Thomas Batchelor and Rouxle Le Roux their goal scorers.
Under 12 Development Program
Once again over fifty Under 12 players invaded the pitch at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre just after midday on Saturday to take part in the Wimmera Hockey Association’s Under 12 Development Program.
Not only does this give the next generation of hockey players the chance to develop their skills, but it also gives the opportunity for novice umpires to practice their officiating in a low pressure environment and the occasion for others to step up and learn the coaching and team manager roles.
On the field on Saturday, the Nhill Bandits finished ahead of the Dimboola Kookaburras, the Yanac Lowan Stars narrowly defeated the Kaniva Rampagers and Warrack Avengers won against the Horsham Black Hawks.
Round Nine Results
Dimboola Burras 4 (Goals - J Parly, Z Slater-Collard, L Geary, C Baldock; Best - T Jorgensen, B Tischler, J Tischler) defeated Nhill Rangers 1 (Goal - C Hauselburger; Best - S Bone, Mont Miller, Murray Miller)
Yanac Tigers 6 (Goals - N Alexander 3, L Reichenbach, J Cramer, T Alexander; Best - N Alexander, T Alexander, S Alexander) defeated Kaniva Cobras 0 (Best - C Williams, D Cole, A Wallis)
Warrack Hoops 2 (Goals - S Schultz, D Cosgrave; Best - M Williamson, B Williamson, R Brown) defeated Horsham Hurricanes 0 (Best - R Slater, R Mueller, C Dodson)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Dimboola Roos 7 (Goals - A King 2, E Klinge 2, P Williams 2, J Hauselberger; Best - E Klinge, J Hauselberger, B McMaster) defeated Nhill Thunderbirds 2 (Goals - S Walker, S Allen; Best - E Murden, K Farquharson, H Cannell)
Yanac Women 2 (Goals - M Farmers, S Alexander; Best - E Alexander, M Farmers, S Alexander, N Harding) defeated Kaniva Women 0 (Best - S Williams, E Hicks, L Shurdington, H Williams)
Horsham Jets 6 (Goals - L Schilling 3, Q Williams 2, S Foot; Best - R Batchelor, L Schilling, Q Williams) defeated Warrack Women 1 (Goal - R McNamara; Best - R McNamara, K Krahe, M Bentley)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Nhill Leopards 6 (Goals - C Rowe 2, C Koop 2, K Clark, S Allen; Best - L McBride, K Clark, S Allen) defeated Dimboola Kangaroos 0 (Best - W Abbott, A Farmers, C Baker)
Yanac Warriors 6 (Goals - Caleb Zanker 2, M Farmers, R Croot, J Croot, H Pedie; Best - Caleb Zanker, M Farmers, J Croot) defeated Kaniva Raiders 0 (Best - S Braisby, M Goodwin, B Williams)
Warrack Revengers 6 (Goals - C Mills 3, B Williamson, F Eilola, N Eilola; Best - B Williamson, H Johns, F Eilola) defeated Horsham Bombers 2 (Goals - T Batchelor, R Leroule; Best - J Crockford, B Brooks, S Foot)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Nhill Bandits 5 (Goals - V Maloney 3, T Shue 2; Encouragement Award - N Reichelt) defeated Dimboola Kookaburras 0
Yanac Lowan Stars 2 (Goals - Archie Zanker 2; Encouragement Award - Annabelle Zanker) defeated Kaniva Rampagers 1 (Goal - Z Stimson)
Warracknabeal Avengers 4 (Goals - A Mills 2, S Williamson, Z O’Connor) defeated Horsham Black Hawks 1 (Goal - H Mackereth; Encouragement Award - R Clements)