|Intrigue surrounded the lead up to round one of the Wimmera Hockey Association’s 2021 season, with clubs more focused on getting their own teams on the field than speculating on the off-season recruiting of their opponents.
After a year-and-a-half with no competition games played in the Wimmera, a day at the hockey looks different this year with two fewer teams than 2019, creating a bye in both the Women’s and Under 16 divisions, and playing with only nine players per side on the field, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm or the determination to re-establish the sport after the challenges of 2020.
The feature game of the first round saw reigning premiers Yanac Women take on their last grand final opponent, Dimboola Roos, but its status as a replay of the 2019 grand final was not the focus. There was more interest in the makeup of the teams, with both rumoured to be struggling for players and Dimboola even relying on the services of the Warracknabeal players who no longer had their home club fielding a team.
Yanac made the stronger start on the field, having four goals on the scoresheet by halftime, and although the Roos played with more composure as the game progressed, Yanac still doubled their score by the final whistle. Mikayla Famers and Ellen Wheaton led the scoring with two goals each, and Farmers was named as her team’s best player, along with Anita King-Gee as Dimboola’s best.
The second Women’s game was a much closer contest, with neither Kaniva nor Nhill Thunderbirds having scored by half time. Quenda Pearse broke the deadlock in Kaniva’s favour mid-way through the second half, and although Nhill kept up the pressure with three unsuccessful penalty corners in the next few minutes, they were unable to even the scores.
Kaniva earned three penalty corners in the last two minutes of the game, but strong Thudnerbirds’ defence prevented them from extending their lead, and the result remained a one-goal victory.
The umpires nominated Olivia Williams and Pearse as Kaniva’s better players and Jennie Hauselburger and Ellie Murden as the Thunderbirds best.
Horsham Jets had the bye and will start their 2021 campaign next week.
The Open division season started with reigning premiers Yanac Tigers meeting the Dimboola Burras, and although they dominated the play, neither team scored in the first half. Two Yanac goals in the first minutes of the second half gave them some breathing space, to which they added another goal before the end of the game.
The leading players for the Tigers were Nathan, Todd, and Bradley Alexander, and Daniel Danish, Ellie Baldock, and Brett Tischler stood out for the Burras.
Above - Bradley Walker sends the ball into attack in the Dimboola Burras’ game against the Yanac Tigers.
In the second game, the Kaniva Cobras took the early lead with a goal off the stick of Duncan Shalders after just four minutes of play, but they could not extend this advantage despite maintaining attacking pressure.
The Nhill Rangers matched this six minutes later, but Kaniva took the lead into the break after converting a penalty corner late in the half.
Nhill equalized the scores five minutes after the re-start, only to have the Cobras regain the lead once again soon after. The Rangers drew equal at the 12-minute mark with another goal in a very open, free-flowing game, and with neither team able to score again, the match finished as a tie.
The leading player for the Rangers was Jason Reichelt, and for the Cobras it was Clint Beattie.
The day concluded with the Warrack Hoops scoring a two-goal win over the Horsham Hurricanes, which wasn’t an accurate indication of the evenness of the game. The first half was very close, with both teams earning several short corners, but neither could convert, and it took until five minutes after the break for Royce Bennett to find the net to put the Hoops in front.
Oskar Bennett extended the lead with a successful scoring shot towards the end of the game to establish the two-goal margin.
Stuart Hoffman played very solidly at full-back for Horsham, repelling many Hoops’ forward moves, which saw him named as his team’s best player, whilst his counterpart at the other end of the field, Hoops’ full-back Cameron Bardell, was best for the victors.
In the Under 16 competition, the Nhill Leopards scored a five-goal victory over the Kaniva Raiders, and the Horsham Bombers scored three times whilst holding the Warrack Revengers scoreless.
Under 12 Development Program
Despite the struggle to field full teams in the competition grades, nearly sixty players ran out for the six teams in the Under 12 Development Program, boding well for the future.
Warrack Avengers and Horsham Black Hawks both scored twice in their game, and the Dimbooal Kangaroos and Yanac Lowan Stars also played out a two-all draw. On the other field, the Nhill Bandits scored once against the Kanive Rampagers in a close game.
Wimmera Hockey Association - Round Two Preview
The second round of the Wimmera Hockey Association’s 2021 season will be played on Davis Park in Nhill next Saturday, where the feature game will be the replay of the last grand final in the Under 16 competition.
The Yanac Warriors had the bye in the first round, so their 2021 form is yet to be revealed, and with the Kaniva Raiders coming off a defeat, the result of this game is difficult to predict.
The other game in this division gives the Horsham Bombers the rare chance to build on their first-round win to rise to the top of the ladder when they take on the Leopards, the other victorious team after round one.
The Warrack Revengers have the bye this week.
The two teams tipped to be the leaders in the Women’s competition this season will fight for the early lead after they both registered wins in round one. The experience of Yanac will come up against the depth of Kaniva, which should result in a very entertaining match that could go either way.
The next game will feature the Horsham Jets and Nhill Thunderbirds in what will be both team’s chance to open their account for this season, with the former coming off the bye last week and the latter having experienced a narrow one-goal loss last week.
The Dimboola Roos have the week off with the bye.
After three close and hard-fought games in the Open competition last Saturday, the schedule for round two promises more of the same.
As with the Women’s competition, Yanac and Kaniva should be amongst the pacesetters this seaosn. Their clash on Saturday presents the chance for one to gain an advantage over a strong opponent.
Despite having not played finals for several seasons, the Hurricanes showed enough in round one to suggest that they are not to be taken lightly this year. The Nhill Rangers will need to take this opponent seriously if they are to better their first-round draw.
The final game will see the Warrack Hoops take on the Dimboola Burras, and regardless of recent results or current ladder positions, these two teams always put on an entertaining display of hockey, and this week should be no exception.
The Under 12 Development Program will take over field two at 12.30 pm where the Warrack Avengers will play Dimboola Kookaburras, Horsham Black Hawks take on Nhill bandits, and Yanac Lowan Stars meet Kaniva Rampagers.
Wimmera Hockey Association - Round Two Fixture
|11.00 am ||Yanac Warriors v. Kaniva Raiders|
|12.30 pm||Yanac Tigers v. Kaniva Cobras|
|2.00 pm||Yanac Women v. Kaniva Women|
|3.30 pm||Warrack Hoops v. Dimboola Burras|
|11.00 am ||Horsham Bombers v. Nhill Leopards|
|12.30 pm ||Under 12 Development Program|
| ||Warrack Avengers v. Dimboola Kookaburras|
| ||Horsham Black Hawks v. Nhill Bandits|
| ||Yanac Lowan Stars . Kaniva Rampagers|
|2.00 pm||Horsham Hurricanes v. Nhill Rangers|
|3.30 pm||Horsham Jets v. Nhill Thunderbirds|
BYE - Warrack Revenger and Dimboola Roos
Round One Results
Yanac Tigers 3 (Goals - N Alexander, B Alexander, J Croot; Best - N Alexander, T Alexander, B Alexander) defeated Dimboola Burras 0 (Best - D Danish, E Baldock, B Tischler)
Kaniva Cobras 3 (Goals - C Beattie, D Shalders, M Goodwin; Best - C Beattie, T Krelle, B Lovett) drew with Nhill Rangers 3 (Goals - J Reichelt, H Pearse, R Reichelt; Best - J Reichelt, h Pearse, B Miller)
Warrack Hoops 2 (Goals - R Bennett, O Bennett; Best - C Bardell, H Wagenknecht, S Schultz) defeated Horsham Hurricanes 0 (Best - S Hoffman, W Gulline, T Roberts)
| ||Pts|| GD|
Yanac Women 8 (Goals - M Farmers 2, E Wheaton 2, L Farmers, C Beattie, C Smith, C Dickinson; Best - M Farmers, C Smith, L Farmers) defeated Dimboola Roos 0 (Best - A King-Gee, A Rintoule, K Johns)
Kaniva Women 1 (Goal - Q Pearse; Best - O Williams, Q Pearse, C Shurdington) defeated Nhill Thunderbirds 0 (Best - J Hauselberger, E Murden, B Cuming)
Bye - Horsham Jets
| ||Pts|| GD|
Nhill Leopards 5 (Goals - I Deckert 4, D Clark; Best - I Deckert, K Clark, D Clark) defeated Kaniva Raiders 0 (Best - C White, L Krelle, B Williams, F Dodson)
Horsham Bombers 3 (Goals - T Batchelor 2, K Schwarz; Best - T Batchelor, K Schwarz, L Nuske) defeated Warrack Revengers 0 (Best - L Eilola, K Johns, H Zwar)
Bye - Yanac Warriors
| ||Pts|| GD|
Under 12 Development Program
Warrack Avengers 2 (Goals - O Slater, S Williamson; Encouragement Award - O Slater) drew with Horsham Black Hawks 2 (Goals - J Schwarz, J DePietrio, Encouragement Award - J Schwarz)
Dimbnoola Kookaburras 2 (Goals - J Ward 2; Encouragement Award - C Elliott)drew with Yanac Lowan Stars 2 (Goals - S Hedt, L Cramer; Encouragement Award - E Alexander)
Nhill Bandits 1 (Goal - J White; Encouragement Award - B Lowe) defeated Kaniva Rampagers 0 (Encouragement Award - H Dickenson)