Tigers fire up for semi

Pow­er­ful Blaze ly­ing in wait for Tas­ma­ni­ans

Mercury (Hobart) - - HOCKEY, RUGBY, RUGBY LEAGUE - ADAM CLIF­FORD Hockey writer

THE Tassie Tigers de­part for en­emy ter­ri­tory tomorrow, ahead of their knock­out Hockey One semi-fi­nal on Satur­day night against Bris­bane Blaze.

The two sides have had quite the ri­valry in re­cent years, with the Tigers caus­ing a mas­sive semi-fi­nal up­set to de­feat Queens­land 1-0 in 2014 en route to their maiden Aus­tralian Hockey League ti­tle.

Af­ter be­ing edged by a soli­tary goal for three con­sec­u­tive years, the Tigers em­bar­rassed Queens­land 5-1 in the roundrobin matches last sea­son with Kieron Arthur, Oli Smith and Sam McCam­bridge hit­ting the score­board.

The hosts re­turned fire with a thump­ing 9-3 win in last year’s semi-fi­nal on the Gold Coast off the back of a five­goal open­ing 20 min­utes, go­ing on to claim the gold medal while the Tigers re­cov­ered to claim bronze.

Tigers vice-cap­tain Tim Deavin says the Tigers were over­whelmed in last year’s fi­nal and outclassed last month but re­turn to Bris­bane with re­newed hope.

“It’s no se­cret that we need ev­ery­one to play well if we are to win, es­pe­cially our goal­keeper Grant Wood­cock,” Deavin said. “Last game, de­spite the score­line, we had more posses­sion and they have since lost Kook­abur­ras de­fender Matthew Swann, which is good for us, and Bris­bane also lost to NSW last week.”

In their only change, the Tigers have re­placed goal­keeper Henry Cham­bers with Wood­cock for the do-or-die clash.

As­sis­tant-coach Richard Davies re­vealed Wood­cock’s knowl­edge of the Bris­bane side, from his time play­ing in the Bris­bane Premier League, gave him the up­per hand at the selection ta­ble.

“We’ve been re­ally pleased with the progress Henry has made, es­pe­cially the im­pact he made at a cru­cial stage in the Can­berra game and his clean sheet against Perth,” Davies said. “Grant has com­mit­ted fully to our pro­gram in the last two weeks and has staked his claim for the semi-fi­nal berth, work­ing reg­u­larly with goal­keeper coach Steve Welch.

“This has brought him re­newed con­fi­dence and in the last week he has been out­stand­ing in train­ing.”

The Tigers face the Blaze from 7.30pm on Satur­day, with the ac­tion live on Kayo.

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