Tigers into 12th hockey final
Yanac Tigers have qualified for their 12th consecutive Wimmera Hockey Association open grand final with a three-goal win over Kaniva Cobras.
The Cobras will now meet Warrack Hoops, who fought out a tough 3-2 extra-time win over the Burras, in a preliminary final.
It took a full game of intense hockey plus 20 minutes of extra time to separate the Hoops and Burras.
The Burras took the early initiative and confined the ball to their attacking half for the first couple of minutes of the game, but were unable to score.
The Hoops were first on the scorecard 10 minutes after the resumption of play when Cameron Bardell received the ball from a field flick from Marcus Williamson at the centre line and was able to slip the ball past the defenders.
Another 10 minutes later, after a solid save by Hoops’ goal-keeper Russell Brown, Lachlan Schultz trapped the rebounding ball and hit it into the goal to even the scores.
Intense play by both teams created many scoring opportunities but strong defence matched all these and the scores remained at one-all at full time.
The tie-breaking process started with two periods of 10 minutes of extra time and it was Hoops, with a full complement of players on the interchange bench, that took control and with goals to both Jordan and Marcus Williamson finished the first period of extra time with the lead.
The pressure built when the Burras’ captain Caleb Halsall scored less than two minutes into the second period of extra time, but the persistent Hoops’ attack and co-ordinated defence allowed them to finish ahead and progress to the preliminary final.
Talor Dent of the Burras was the stand-out candidate for best-onground honours and defender Brett Tischler, goal-keeper Ellie Woods and forward Beau Lovett were the other Dimboola players to get the votes.
The best players for Hoops included inside forward Royce Bennett, Marcus Williamson, under-16 player Sandon Schultz and Brown.
Yanac Tigers maintained their unbeaten record for the 2017 season with victory over Kaniva Cobras and in the process have earned the opportunity to play off for a 15th premiership.
The game was a scrappy affair but the Tigers enjoyed more of the play and despite strong defence by Kaniva, the sheer number of attacking moves eventually yielded three goals to the Tigers, with Brad Alexander scoring twice and Josh Cramer once.
Better players for the Tigers included Simon Farmers, Brad Alexander and Seth Croot, while Lachlan Clark, Lachie Mills, Duncan Shalders and Dave Cole stood out for Cobras.
Despite this loss the Cobras have another chance to qualify for their first grand final.
Dimboola Roos continued their dominance of the women’s competition and moved directly into the grand final with a 4-2 win over Horsham Jets.
Yanac Women remain in the race for the title with a three-goal win over Kaniva Women, who were playing in their first final since 2006.
The Roos took control of their game against Horsham Jets early and were two goals ahead by half time after Adina King and Elizabeth Klinge both scored in the first half.
After the break a goal to Jennifer Klinge and another to King extended the lead to four goals, before the Jets were able regroup and in a late challenge scored two goals, both to Launa Schilling, but they had left their run too late and ran out of time to catch the Roos.
Jennifer Klinge, Rebecca Lovett and Elizabeth Klinge stood out for the winning team and Sophie Robinson, Carmel Mcfarlane, Schilling and Robyn Creek were best for Jets.
The other semi-final was an encounter between two teams that have proven to be evenly matched all season. On this occasion it was Yanac’s finals experience that was the difference.
Strong Kaniva defence led by Rachel Clark and Sharon Williams repelled scoring attempts, but the first goal came off Susan Hedt’s stick for Yanac midway through the first half, and a second came before half time when Carmel Beattie converted a short corner.
After the break Mikalya Farmers added a third goal for Yanac, and her team-mates in the back line were able to repel all Kaniva attempts to score, leaving the result a comfortable win to Yanac.
Yanac centre half back Shanaye Alexander dominated the midfield and centre forward Louise Bone and inside forward Kaitlyn Miller played well in attack.
For Kaniva, Cally Shurdington joined regular contributors Clark and Williams as their team’s best players.
These results set up a preliminary final between Horsham Jets and Yanac Women, teams that have shown inconsistent form this year, so it will be difficult to pick a favourite as the winner.
In under-16 semi-finals, Warrack Revengers prevailed over Nhill Leopards 3-1 and Kaniva Raiders beat Dimboola Kangaroos 2-0. The Revengers booked a place in their first grand final since winning the title in 2011.
This weekend Nhill Leopards meet Kaniva Raiders in a preliminary final.
ON THE RUN: Jennifer Klinge of Dimboola Roos controls the ball ahead of Robyn Creek of Horsham Jets. Picture: SIMON KING