4 June, 2024

Challenging conditions in round five

With the completion of round five of the Wimmera hockey season, each opponent has been played once, and teams are beginning to find their place on the ladder amongst their peers.

By Simon King

Kaniva’s Nyree Hutchins winds up for a shot at goal from a penalty corner. PHOTO: SIMON KING
Kaniva’s Nyree Hutchins winds up for a shot at goal from a penalty corner. PHOTO: SIMON KING

At this noteworthy point in the season, the ladders have already taken on a familiar look, with last year’s grand finalists currently occupying the top two places in each competition.

However, with the number of close results so far this season, there is plenty of potential for changes over the ten rounds to be played before the finals.

After several millimetres of rain leading up to Saturday’s games, the otherwise pristine Kaniva fields were a little heavier than the surfaces encountered so far this season, presenting challenges for the players to adapt to the conditions, but this did not detract from the competitive hockey played throughout the day.

- Open -

In what is proving to be a very close season, two enthralling matches were played out in the Open competition.

Despite their winless record, the Nhill Rangers are starting to make their opponents nervous, with the Kaniva Cobras the latest to narrowly escape with a win that could easily have gone the other way, a testament to the Rangers's growing threat.

A goal by Lachlan Schultz in the dying moments of the first quarter gave the Cobras a lead they would hold for the rest of the match, and despite 53 more minutes of intense play, neither side could break through the other’s defence. With Nhill missing several key players and losing Joseph Knoll, who regularly features in their best players, to a hand injury during the game, it will only take a slight shift in their fortunes to register a win.

Lachlan Mills and Josh Bedford joined Schultz as the victor’s best players, and Jason Reichelt, Imogen Williams, and Brett Tischler stood out for the Rangers.

Two first-half goals by the Warracknabeal Hoops saw them finish ahead of the Horsham Hurricanes in this much-anticipated match-up between two teams that have shown impressive form over recent weeks.

With the heavy field slowing down both teams' usual free-flowing game styles, the Hoops adapted to the conditions first and eared more of the attacking play, but some impressive work from Lars Simmons in goals for the Hurricanes kept them in the game.

Horsham also looked threatening when they entered their striking circle, but Russell Brown was equal to Simmons at the other end, and they remained scoreless.

Mark Peters and Royce Bennett scored the goals, and Tim Jorgensen and Sandon Schultz were the Hoops’ best players, and Charles Hassall, Thomas Batchelor, and Paul Mackereth were the best for the Hurricanes.

With the two points they received for the bye, the Yanac Tigers retained their grip on the top of the ladder, while the Hoops are now two points behind in second place, ahead of the Cobras and Hurricanes, with the Rangers in fifth, but given the number of close games and unpredicted results in the first five rounds, there will be plenty of movement up and down the ladder before the finalists are locked in by the end of round fifteen.

- Women -

The most anticipated match of the round in the Women’s competition saw the Dimboola Roos, who have impressed upon their return to the competition this season, take on the reigning premiers, Yanac, who are proving their recent loss to the Jets was out of character.

In an ominous sign to the rest of the competition, Yanac finished with seven individual goalscorers, highlighting the versatility of their playing roster and the multiple options they have to score.

Lexi Farmers converted a penalty corner midway through the first quarter to open the scoring, which Erin Alexander added to before halftime from a penalty stroke. Suz Hedt scored off a penalty corner in the third quarter to make the margin three goals at halftime.

In the second half, Annabella Zanker, Caitlyn Alexander, Makayla Mackley and Ellen Wheaton extended the total to seven goals.

Regular top performers Jennie Hauselberger, Leah Graham, and Cara Hadzig all performed strongly for the Roos.

This result keeps Yanac in outright first place on the ladder, and the Roos have slipped to fourth but still have a one-win buffer and significant goal difference keeping them ahead of the Thunderbirds in fifth.

The other two Women’s division matches were much closer, both on the scorecard and thefield.

The Nhill Thunderbirds pushed last year’s grand finalists, Kaniva, for their whole match, and it took until well into the third quarter before Zoey Smith opened the scoring with a field goal to put Kaniva ahead, and although Imogen Williams added to this with another field goal in the last period of play, they had to work hard against a determined Thunderbirds’ team to earn the win.

Kaniva now sits in second place, just two points behind Yanac on the ladder, while the Thunderbirds are outside the top four but remain a serious threat to rise up the ladder over the next ten rounds.

Warrack Women have not had a great start to their season, remaining without a win, but their mix of young and inexperienced players has shown significant improvement over the first five rounds, and they can look forward to further improvement as the season progresses.

On Saturday, the Horsham Jets got off to a quick start, with two goals before quarter time, which could have been the start of a big score. However, the Warrack team stepped up the pressure and restricted their opponents to just one more goal for the game, giving the Jets a win by three goals. However, Warrack can be happy with their performance.

The goal scorers were Kelly Krahe, Annabelle Heal, and Hannah Mackereth, and Warrack’s best players were Eddie Bull, Eileen Eichberger, and Kate Williamson.

The Jets are now in third place on the ladder, equal on points with the second-placed Kaniva but with an inferior goal difference and a win ahead of the fourth-placed Roos. Warrack is in sixth place, but if their recent improvement continues, there is still plenty of time before the finals for them to make a move.

- Under 16 -

The Kaniva Raiders and Nhill Leopards had the honour of knocking the dew off the grass when they took to the field for the first match of the day, which proved to be another in which the scorecard did not accurately indicate how close the action was on the field.

For nearly three quarters of hockey, neither team could claim dominance. Nhill’s five penalty corners in the first half, to Kaniva’s two, suggested that they may have slightly held the advantage but could not transfer that from the field to the scorecard.

With two minutes left of the third quarter, Charlie White goaled off a penalty corner to put the home team ahead, and while the pressure from both sides did not wane until the final whistle, another goal to White saw the final margin at two goals.

White was named the Raiders’ best player, ahead of teammates Logan Krelle and Flynn Dodson, while Deegan Clark, Thar Shu Bee, and Oliver Bone were the best for the Leopards.

The Horsham Bombers moved into the top four for the first time this season after defeating the Warrack Revengers in another entertaining game. Both teams feature a significant number of younger players, but what they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm.

The Revengers kept the Bombers scoreless for a quarter and a half, but the sheer number of attacking moves by Horsham’s midfield of Justin Schwarz, who finished with four goals, Keisha Besselaar and Hannah Mackereth soon started to add to the scoreline, which ended with the Bombers scoring six goals to the Revengers’ one.

Ellie Williamson confidently controlled the Revengers’ midfield, building on the experience she gained at the recent Junior Country Championships in Melbourne and was ably supported by Josh Nuske, their sole goal scorer, and Noah Eilola.

The Under 16 games for the round concluded with the Yanac Warriors scoring a comfortable win over the Dimboola Kangaroos. Harry Zanker and Archie Zanker scored two goals each, contributing to the Warriors’ eight goals, while Jasper Ward was the sole scorer for the Kangaroos.

Asher Zanker, Archie Zanker, and Savannah Hedt were named as Yanac’s best players, and Jasper Ward, Victoria Ward, and Roary Hadzig all played well for the Kangaroos.

The top of the Under 16 ladder could not be closer. The Kaniva Raiders and Yanac Warriors are tied on 18 points each, and they both have the same goal difference (the next figure used to separate teams on the ladder) of 23 goals, so it is percentage that currently places the Raiders just ahead of the Warriors.

The Nhill Leopards are in third place with twelve points, one win ahead of the Horsham Bombers in fourth, followed by the Revengers and Dimboola Kangaroos, who are outside the top four but still close enough to maintain their ambitions of playing in the finals this season.

Next weekend, the competition has a bye while the Senior Country Championships are
played in Melbourne.

Although the Wimmera Hockey Association is not entering any teams this year, several locals will represent Hockey Central Victoria (Bendigo) in the Women’s division and North Central Hockey Association in the Men’s competition.

Local competition will resume the following weekend when the teams gather at Dimboola to play round six.

Wimmera Hockey Association - Round Five Results

- Open -

Kaniva Cobras 1 (Goal - L Schultz; Best - L Mills, J Bedford, L Schultz) defeated Nhill
Rangers 0 (Best - J Reichelt, I Williams, B Tischler).
Warrack Hoops 2 (Goals - R Bennett, M Peters; Best - T Jorgensen, S Schultz, R Bennett)
defeated Horsham Hurricanes 0 (Best - C Hassall, T Batchelor, P Mackereth)
Bye - Yanac Tigers.

Pts GD
Yanac Tigers 16 11
Warrack Hoops 14 5
Kaniva Cobras 10 -2
Horsham Hurricanes 8 -2
Nhill Rangers 2 -12

- Women -

Kaniva Women 2 (Goals - I Williams, Z Smith; Best - N Hutchins, I Williams, L Stimson)
defeated Nhill Thunderbirds 0 (Best - K Clark, S Keller, J Rowe).
Horsham Jets 3 (Goals - A Heal, K Krahe, H Mackereth; Best - K Krahe, L Schilling, H
Mackereth) defeated Warrack Women 0 (Best - E Bull, E Eichberger, K Williamson).
Yanac Women 7 (Goals - M Mackley, E Alexander, A Farmers, E Wheaton, A Zanker, C
Alexander, S Hedt; Best - E Alexander, S Hedt, M Mackley) defeated Dimboola Roos 0 (Best
- J Hauselberger, L Graham, C Hadzig).

Pts GD
Yanac Women 16 20
Kaniva Women 14 15
Horsham Jets 14 7
Dimboola Roos 10 1
Nhill Thunderbirds 6 -6
Warrack Women 0 -37

- Under 16 -

Kaniva Raiders 2 (Goals - C White 2; Best - C White, L Krelle, F Dodson) defeated Nhill
Leopards 0 (Best - D Clark, T Bee, O Bone).
Horsham Bombers 6 (Goals - J Schwarz 4, J Luy, H Di Pietro; Best - K Besselaar, J Schwarz, H Mackereth) defeated Warrack Revengers 1 (Goal - J Nuske; Best - E
Williamson, J Nuske, N Eilola).

Yanac Warriors 8 (Goals - H Zanker 2, Archie Zanker 2, A Cramer, S Hedt, S Pedie, Asher Zanker; Best - Asher Zanker, Archie Zanker, S Hedt) defeated Dimboola Kangaroos 1 (Goal - J Ward; Best - J Ward, V Ward, R Hadzig).

Pts GD
Kaniva Raiders 18 23
Yanac Warriors 18 23
Nhill Leopards 12 8
Horsham Bombers 8 -10
Warrack Revengers 4 -20
Dimboola Kangaroos 0 -24

- Under 12 Development Program -

Horsham Black Hawks 6 (Goals - L Rose 2, E Batchelor, L Hobbs, A Janetzki, H Mitchell) v.
Warrack Avengers 4 (Goals - C Peters 2, R Johnstone, M Peters).
Kaniva Rampagers 3 (Goals - R Williams 2, L Williams) v. Nhill Bandits 3 (Goals - D Bee 2,
H Albrecht).
Yanac Lowan Stars 1 (Goal - S Hedt) v. Dimboola Kookaburras 5 (Goals - R Hadzig 3, C
Wallace, L Elliott).


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