Hockey part of big day of sport
Nhill and Yanac senior hockey teams will be at Davis Park in Nhill on Saturday evening to showcase Wimmera Hockey Association in twilight games as part of a big day of sport.
Earlier in the day, Nhill Tigers footballers and netballers will enjoy their first run for the season after having the bye in the first round.
While early form suggests Yanac Tigers should not have too much trouble finishing ahead of struggling Nhill Rangers in the open competition, a game in a women’s division should be much closer.
Yanac Women and Nhill Thunderbirds registered confidence-boosting wins in opening-round clashes, and although Yanac has had the best of encounters over resent seasons, significant recruiting during the off-season has seen the Thunderbirds become a more formidable combination.
This will provide for a suitable showpiece game.
The remaining games will be at Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre on Saturday, with a clash between second and third-ranked teams in the open division last year, Kaniva Cobras and Warrack Hoops, the feature game.
These are the two teams most likely to mount a serious challenge to the dominance of Yanac Tigers and both will be desperate for a win to gain an early-season advantage.
Horsham Hurricanes will look to build on their opening-round victory in the late game against Dimboola Burras, who will want to prove they are better than their result from Saturday.
Following the form of last week, both of the women’s games at this venue could go either way.
An improving Warrack Women will take on Kaniva Women in what should be a close game, and Horsham Jets will be disappointed in their opening-round performance and will want to match Dimboola Roos.
After only one round it is difficult to read too much into the form of under-16 teams still coming to terms with enforced personnel changes, with older players moving into the senior ranks and their younger replacements still finding their place in the team.
This weekend, Horsham Bombers play Dimboola Kangaroos, Kaniva Raiders play Warrack Revengers and Nhill Leopards meet Yanac Warriors.
Warm conditions greeted players and officials for the first round of the competition at Davis Park last week.
In open competition, a 2017 open grand final rematch between Yanac Tigers and Kaniva Cobras finished with a one-sided score line, but it was a close and hard-fought game. The Tigers scored six times, with Jamie Harding finding the goals twice, and the Cobras twice, with Mathew Mcdonald’s looped ball over the goalkeeper’s head the most memorable.
A goal by Horsham Hurricanes Jonathon Horsfall was all that separated his team from Nhill Rangers, but it was enough to allow them to start the season with a rare win.
Nhill dictated play early but the Hurricanes defended well to prevent any scoring in the first half.
Warrack Hoops and Dimboola Burras always give an entertaining display, and this round was no exception.
In a keenly fought game, the Burras won the first half with Jarryd Williams scoring the only goal before the break and the Hoops unable to convert chances.
A penalty-corner conversion by Marcus Williamson soon after play resumed evened the scores, but the Burras regained the lead through an accurate shot by Zack Slater-collard.
Relentless attacking by the Hoops allowed them to score a further three goals through Jordan Williamson, Jarrod Knoop and a second to Marcus Williamson, and solid co-ordinated defence at the other end prevented the Burras from matching this.
In women’s competition, Warrack Women started the 2018 season positively by scoring three goals against reigning premiers Dimboola Roos, Donna Rigby scoring two and Deb Templeton the third.
Although this was not enough to earn a win, with the Roos scoring four, Kelly Smithyman, two, it showed that Warrack Women need to be taken seriously.
Nhill Thunderbirds and Horsham Jets played out an even game, which ended in a victory for the Nhill team.
The Jets took the early lead only six minutes into the game courtesy of a goal by Ellie Morrow, but this was equalled four minutes later when Kellie Farquharson converted a penalty stroke. A field goal by Ellie Murden put the Thunderbirds ahead, but Jets’ Sue Puls ensured the teams went into the break locked on two goals each.
Goals to Leah Hawker of Thunderbirds and another to Ellie Morrow, Jets, kept scores deadlocked early in the second half and it was a goal to Nhill’s Jess Hayes that separated the teams.
Yanac controlled much of the play in its game with Kaniva Women and finished with a three-goal win despite solid work by Kaniva goalkeeper Simone Mitchell, which included successfully defending two penalty strokes.
Shanaye Alexander scored twice and Susan Hedt once for Yanac.
IN A TANGLE: Erin Alexander of Yanac Women shapes to clear the ball despite an attempt by Kaniva’s Jules Braisby. Picture: SIMON KING