Final spots up for grabs
Remaining places in Wimmera Hockey Association grand finals will be decided during preliminary finals at Kaniva Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
In Open division, Yanac Tigers will play Nhill Rangers, a Women’s competition will feature Yanac up against Kaniva and in under-16s Kaniva Raiders will play Nhill Leopards.
In Open company, combatants will be in unfamiliar territory for different reasons – Yanac has dominated for so long but usually bypass the preliminary and make it directly into the season decider.
But Warrack Hoops won the second semi-final last week to make its way into the grand final, forcing the Tigers to play another game.
Nhill Rangers, who beat Dimboola Burras in the first semi-final, have only played one semi-final in the past 10 seasons, with the opportunity to play off for further honours eluding them since the mid 1990s.
Recent form and finals experience suggests the Tigers will go into this game as favourites. But the Rangers managed to hold the reigning premiers scoreless for more than 65 of the 70 minutes of
their round-10 clash, before a late converted penalty corner gave the Tigers the win.
With nothing to lose the Rangers should be able to put pressure on the Tigers, who will have a point to prove after losing their first game in three seasons last weekend.
In the Women’s division, Kaniva will be another team taking in a new experience when it lines up for a preliminary final for the first time since 2006.
Players also have added incentive to become the first Kaniva Women’s team to qualify for a grand final if they were to win.
In contrast, Yanac has the pressure to fulfil a dominant season with a premiership, which it cannot do if it loses this game.
Yanac holds the advantage in the head-to-head record this season and should have too many match winners around the ground.
But with several underdogs recording wins in semi-finals last weekend, anything could happen.
In under-16s, Kaniva Raiders registered two victories over their preliminary final opponent, but in their most recent meeting the game ended in a draw.
The Raiders will need to quickly move on from its loss to the dominant Yanac Warriors last weekend and focus on this next game.
The Leopards will have to overcome the extra physical workload of a tough semi-final against the Warrack Revengers that involved an extra 20 minutes of play and a penalty-stroke shootout.
Semi-final results – Open: First semi-final, Nhill Rangers 2 (Goals, D. Schwarz, B. Miller; best, S. Bone, B. Miller, Murray Miller) d Dimboola Burras 1 (L. Schultz; L. Schultz, J. Lovett, T. Jorgensen); second semi-final, Warrack Hoops 2 (J. Williamson, M. Williamson; C. Bardell, R. Bennett, M. Williamson) d Tigers 1 (J. Cramer; S. Farmers, L. Reichenbach, T. Alexander). Women: First semi-final, Kaniva 1 (I. Williams; S. Williams, L. Shurdington, O. Williams) d Nhill Thunderbirds 0 (E. Murden, K. Farquharson, K. Clark), extra time, 1-0; second semi-final, Dimboola Roos 4 (E. Klinge 2, B. Mcmaster, J. Klinge; E. Klinge, B. Mcmaster, N. Kuhnell) d Yanac 3 (N. Harding, E. Alexander, M. Farmers; E. Alexander, S. Pipkorn, C. Beattie); shootout 3-2. Under-16s: First semi-final, Nhill Leopards 5 (I. Deckert 2, L. Mcbride, C. Rowe, C. Koop; L. Mcbride, I. Deckert, K. Clark) d Warrack Revengers 4 (C. Bennett, F. Eilola, H. Johns, B. Williamson; H. Johns, F. Eilola, B. Williamson); full time, 1-1; shootout, 3-2; second semi-final, Yanac Warriors 5 (Caleb Zanker, H. Pedie, M. Farmers, R. Croot, N. Colbert; J. Croot, Caleb Zanker, N Colbert) d Kaniva Raiders (M. Goodwin, I. Williams, C. White).
BLOCK: Simon Farmers of Yanac Tigers, left, blocks the run of Oskar Bennett of Warrack Hoops. Picture: SIMON KING