Yanac vies for triple premierships
Yanac Hockey Club’s quest for consecutive triple premierships is back on track after its Open and Women’s teams both won their respective preliminary finals on Saturday.
They will join Yanac’s Under-16 team in Wimmera Hockey Association grand finals this weekend.
Grand finals return to Warracknabeal’s Anzac Park for the first time in six seasons.
Three top games are promised, with the top two teams in each division meeting in all three games in repeats of semi-finals played two weeks ago.
Warrack Hoops and Yanac Tigers are the leading teams in the association’s Open competition, with either or both having played in all 31 grand finals contested in the competition’s history.
They have met in 10 of 15 grand finals played since the competition resumed in 2005, and another chapter in this fierce rivalry will be written on Saturday when they play off for the 2019 premiership.
This season these teams could not be more closely matched, as head-tohead they have recorded one win each and have played one draw in three games, and they have both scored four goals against each other.
Both teams bring a wealth of final’s experience into the game which is balanced
by a good mix of young players. Key for the Hoops will be runner-up association best and fairest Cameron Bardell, who provides a solid presence in defence along with Marcus Williamson at centre half back.
Up forward team captain Royce Bennett and younger brother Oskar will team up with Jordan Williamson and Kevin Mills to provide scoring options.
The Alexander brothers Nathan and Todd will be crucial to the Tigers’ chances, but they will be strongly supported by Luke Reichenbach, Josh Cramer and proven finals performer Kim Croot.
No matter the circumstances of these teams meeting they always play out an intense game of hockey with rarely more than one goal between them at the end. There is no reason to believe that this game will be any different.
In a repeat of the past three Women’s grand finals, Dimboola Roos and Yanac will play off for the 2019 premiership in what should be another close game.
When they met two weeks ago it took full time, extra time and six penalty strokes each to separate the teams.
This next encounter could well be just as close.
With Dimboola playing in its ninth grand final in the past 10 seasons, and Yanac featuring in its seventh grand final in a row, both teams will bring a wealth of finals experience into this game, along with several keen younger players.
The focus will be on the midfield battle between Dimboola’s Elizabeth Klinge and 2019 best and fairest Erin Alexander, Yanac, but these two are not the only players capable of turning the game off their own stick.
The Roos team also features the season’s leading goal scorer in Adina King, the pace of Jennifer Klinge on the forward line and Brooke Mcmaster’s experience to the midfield, while Yanac’s line-up includes potential match winners in Mikayla Farmers, Natalie Harding and Sophie Pipkorn.
If both teams play to their potential, this game could go into extra time if not a penalty shootout to decide the 2019 premiers.
With Yanac Warriors going into the grand final undefeated since before their premiership win this time last year, it is difficult to see them dropping this game, but with the pressure of a final the Raiders must be in with a chance if they can settle the nerves first. Experienced players Mikayla Farmers, Jasper Croot, Alister Dickinson and Nathan Colbert lead a settled team that also includes several younger players who despite their inexperience all play an important role in this team.
Max Goodwin will lead the Raiders as they attempt to win their first premiership since 2015 and will look for valuable assistance from Johnathan Dixon and Imogen Williams in defence and Skye Braisby and Elizabeth Dixon in attack.
This should be an entertaining game to start the day and regardless of the result some exciting young players who will form the future of the Wimmera Hockey Association will be on show. Preliminary final results – Open: Yanac Tigers 4 (Goals, N. Alexander 2, A. Magrath, T. Alexander; Best, T. Alexander, N. Alexander, L. Reichenbach) defeated Nhill Rangers 0 (S. Bone, J. Reichelt, L. Marra). Women: Yanac 3 (E. Alexander 3; E. Alexander, N. Harding, M. Farmers, C. Beattie) defeated Kaniva 0 (L. Stimson, S. Williams, J. Wallis, O. Williams). Under 16: Kaniva Raiders 1 (M. Goodwin; M. Goodwin, S. Braisby, I. Williams) defeated Nhill Leopards 0 (K. Clark, T. Mcbride, C. Koop).
ON THE RUN: Nhill Rangers’ Sam Vonarx, left, and Nathan Alexander, Yanac Tigers, race for the ball. Picture: SIMON KING