As teams gear up towards the Wimmera Hockey Association finals later this month, some great hockey is being played as they jostle for the best position to pursue their premiership aspirations.

- Open -

Those who braved the cold conditions on Saturday evening to watch the last game in round twelve at Dimboola were treated to some intense hockey as the home team showed glimpses of their potential when they fielded close to their best line-up and took the game right up to the undefeated Yanac Tigers in the Open competition.

Although the Tigers’ did more of the attacking, the Burras’ defence kept them out for the first half and looked dangerous when they swung the ball into their own forward line.

The deadlock was broken in the third quarter when Brad Alexander converted a penalty stroke to give the Tigers the advantage, and Todd Alexander added to this late in the game when he found the goals after receiving a pass from Nathan Alexander, who moved the ball into attack with a confident solo run.

With no further scoring, the match finished with a two-goal advantage for the Tigers to keep their perfect season record intact.

The two goal scorers were named as the Tigers’ best players, along with Jaiyden Honeyman, and for the Burras, Corey Youngson, Jason Harris, and Daniel Danisch stood out for Dimboola.

The fifth-placed Burras are still in the race for the finals but need at least two wins from their remaining three matches, although if other results go against them, even three may not be enough.

In the earlier games, the second-placed Kaniva Cobras defeated the Horsham Hurricanes by four goals to one, and the third-placed Warrack Hoops defeated the Nhill Rangers four goals to one. This keeps these two victorious teams locked on the same points and will take the battle for second place on the ladder into the remaining three rounds, with the second chance in the finals possibly not decided until the Cobras and Hoops in the last round.

The Cobras took the initiative early against the Hurricanes, with Max Goodwin scoring twice in the first quarter and a nice back stick strike by Zac Simpson registered a third before halftime.

A well-placed hit by Jordan Clark extended the lead to four goals soon after play resumed, but Horsham clawed one back in the last quarter when Rachel Duggan deflected in a hit across the goals.

Although the final result was a four goals to one win for the Cobras, it was a great display of good team play by both teams, giving them confidence for their run to the finals.

Kaniva’s better players included Simpson, Clark, and Goodwin, while defenders David Jochinke, Stuart Hoffman, and forward Traiyth Leffler were Horsham’s stand-out contributors.

All of Warrack Hoops’ three goals came in the first half of the match, with Marcus Williamson scoring twice and Faith Eilola once, while the Rangers won the second half by not conceding any further goals but scoring one themselves off the stick of Darren Schwarz.

Williamson, Eilola, and Jayden Smith were named the Hoops’ best players and David Reichelt, Caithly Rowe, and Lee Marra earned the same honour for the Rangers.

- Women -

Both games in the Women’s competition were close encounters decided by just one goal each.

The Nhill Thunderbirds locked in the four teams that will play finals when they defeated Warracknabeal, who have run out of time to rise from fifth place this season.

In a very close game, Stacey Keller scored for the Thunderbirds ten minutes into the game, but from then on, there was nothing to separate the teams for the next hour of play. Midfielders Chyna Kessler and Kendra Clark played well for the ‘Birds, with some confident defending by Naomi Kuhness, and for Warrack Brooke McMaster, Cara Hadzig, and Leah Eilola played well.

Kaniva is just one win away from confirming they will finish the season on top of the ladder, although they had to work hard to defeat a determined Horsham Jets. However, with the rare luxury of having most of their best players on the field, the Jets showed that they can match it with the best, as it was only a goal late in the final quarter by Querida Pearse that allowed the Kaniva to claim the win.

Forward Sigourney Williams, Lisa Stimson and Pearse were Kaniva’s best players, and Hanah Werner, Robyn Creek and Alana Morrow kept the Jets in the game.

- Under 16 -

In the Under 16 competition, the scorecard suggested that the Nhill Leopards had a comfortable win over the Warrack Revengers, but on the field, they had to work hard for their four goals while conceding two, giving a result that ensures they finish in second place on the ladder. Isaac Deckert scored two of the goals and, along with Oliver Bone and Susan Rowe, was named as the Leopards’ best players, while Leo Nuske was the Revengers’ best player, with Sam Williamson and Clarice Bennett also making significant contributions.

The Horsham Bombers opened the scoring when Hannah Mackereth goaled early in the first quarter against the Kaniva Raiders, but some determined defence prevented them from adding another goal to this until midway through the third quarter off Tom Batchelor’s stick. A third score in the last period of play by Lars Simmons set the final winning margin for the Bombers, but this result did not disgrace the young Raiders team.

Batchelor, Simmons, and Annabell Heal were the Bombers’ best players, and the Raiders’ Charlie White continued his impressive form by being named his team’s best. In addition, Logan Krelle was reliable in defence, and Flynn Dodson played well up forward.

This Saturday, the hockey action returns to Anzac Park in Warracknabeal, when round thirteen will be played.

Wimmera Hockey Association - Round Twelve Results

- Open -

Warrack Hoops 3 (Goals - M Williamson 2, F Eilola; Best - M Williamson, J Smith, F Eilola) defeated Nhill Rangers 1 (Goal - D Schwarz; Best - D Reichelt, C Rowe, L Marra)

Kaniva Cobras 4 (Goals - M Goodwin 2, J Clark, Z Simpson; Best - Z Simpson, J Clark, M Goodwin) defeated Horsham Hurricanes 1 (Goal - R Duggan; Best - D Jochinke, S Hoffman, T Leffler)

Yanac Tigers 2 (Goals - T Alexander, B Alexander; Best - B Alexander, T Alexander, J Honeyman) defeated Dimboola Burras 0 (Best - C Youngson, J Harris, D Danisch)

 Pts  GD
Yanac Tigers4842
Kaniva Cobras3015
Warrack Hoops3012
Horsham Hurricanes20-6
Dimboola Burras16-22
Nhill Rangers0-41

- Women -

Nhill Thunderbirds 1 (Goal - S Keller; Best - C Kessler, K Clark, N Kuhnell) defeated Warracknabeal 0 (Best - B McMaster, C Hadzig, L Eilola)

Kaniva Women 1 (Goal - Q Pearse; Best - S Williams, L Stimson, Q Pearse) defeated Horsham Jets 0 (Best - H Werner, R Creek, A Morrow)

 Pts  GD
Kaniva Women4027
Yanac Women308
Horsham Jets22-6
Nhill Thunderbirds20-11
Warrack Women8-18

- Under 16 -

Nhill Leopards 4 (Goals - I Deckert 2, J Clark, B Clark; Best - O Bone, I Deckert, S Rowe) defeated Warrack Revengers 2 (Goals - N Eilola, L Nuske; Best - L Nuske, S Williamson, C Bennett)

Horsham Bombers 3 (Goals - L Simmons, T Batchelor, H Mackereth; Best - T Batchelor, L Simmons, A Heal) defeated Kaniva Raiders 0 (Best - C White, L Krelle, F Dodson)

 Pts  GD
Yanac Warriors4253
Nhill Leopards3210
Horsham Bombers229
Warrack Revengers16-36
Kaniva Raiders8-36

- Under 12 Development Program -

Nhill Bandits 1 (Goal - B Clark; Encouragement Award - H Albrecht, N Reichelt) v. Warracknabeal Avengers 2 (Goals - M Bentley, S Williamson)

Horsham Black Hawks 0 (Encouragement Award - K Holland) v. Kaniva Rampager 0 (Encouragement Award - C Bedford)

Dimboola Kookaburras 3 (Goals - J Ward 2, B Schwarz; Encouragement Award - J Ward) v. Yanac Lowan Stars 1 (Goal - H Zanker; Encouragement Award - H Zanker)