Fi­nal spots up for grabs

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SI­MON KING

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

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