Car­di­nals en­ter the grand fi­nal as hot favourites

Geraldton Guardian - - Sport - Justin Fris

Women’s A-grade — Car­di­nals v Saints (4pm to­mor­row), Mitchell and Brown Sta­dium Last round:

Car­di­nals: De­feated Saints 6-0 (Sec­ond semi­fi­nal)

Saints: De­feated Aus­trals 2-1 (Pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal)

Car­di­nals: The peren­nial jug­ger­naut of Ger­ald­ton se­nior women’s hockey has rolled along for an­other sea­son and has shown no signs of slow­ing down at any stage. Fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son a per­fect 20-0 - scor­ing 101 goals and only con­ced­ing six. Have no short­age of tal­ent across their squad, with Mikala Cooper, Sharnee Dix and Ella Hoefhamer all con­sis­tently per­form­ing at a high level. Depth and mo­ti­va­tion do not ap­pear to have been an is­sue for the team ei­ther, de­spite be­ing tested dur­ing se­lect pe­ri­ods of the sea­son. Will go into to­mor­row’s grand fi­nal as hot favourites.

Saints: Ended the reg­u­lar sea­son in sec­ond po­si­tion on the ta­ble, be­fore be­ing de­feated 6-0 by Car­di­nals in the sec­ond semi­fi­nal. Faced Aus­trals in last week’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and ab­sorbed early pres­sure be­fore se­cur­ing mo­men­tum and a foothold in the con­test. Were led su­perbly by Olivia Burr — a player whose per­for­mance is im­per­a­tive for a pos­i­tive Saints per­for­mance to­mor­row. Man­aged to se­cure vic­tory af­ter Quinn McVee fired home from a penalty cor­ner, be­fore hold­ing off a late Aus­trals rally. Are coached by an as­tute tac­ti­cian in Char­lene Wat­ters, who is a proved master­mind in big matches at club and rep­re­sen­ta­tive level. Although go­ing into to­mor­row’s game as un­der­dogs, they have a squad and coach ca­pa­ble of dous­ing the Car­di­nals’ spark. Men’s A-grade — Ca­su­als v Saints (5.45pm to­mor­row),

Mitchell and Brown Sta­dium Last round:

Ca­su­als: De­feated Saints 3-1 (Sec­ond semi­fi­nal)

Saints: De­feated Rovers 2-1 (Pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal)

Ca­su­als: No strangers to play­ing in a men’s A-grade grand fi­nal, Ca­su­als again en­joyed good times this sea­son. Had a five-point cush­ion at the sea­son’s end and di­rectly ad­vanced to the grand fi­nal af­ter de­feat­ing Saints 3-1 in the sec­ond semi­fi­nal. Were very pol­ished in that game and made the most of penalty cor­ners awarded to them. Have a solid blend of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth sprin­kled through­out their squad and would fancy their chances of a pos­i­tive dis­play to­mor­row night.

Saints: Have taken the long road to get to the big dance, af­ter their 3-1 sec­ond semi­fi­nal de­feat to Ca­su­als. Took on Rovers in a thrilling pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and stole as­cen­dancy early with a sixth-minute goal — a lead which they held un­til early into the sec­ond half. Missed backto-back penalty cor­ner op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore fi­nally be­ing able to break free and get their noses back in front. Coach Char­lene Wat­ters had formed a good rap­port with this group; and an op­por­tu­nity for Saints to claim re­demp­tion for their semi­fi­nal de­feat is well within reach if they are good enough.

Pic­ture: Arc­tic Moon Pho­tog­ra­phy

Cameron Mercer (Rovers) and Matt O’Neill (Saints) con­test pos­ses­sion.

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