|After a cold start for the early games, it turned into a perfect day for hockey at Davis Park in Nhill on Saturday where the top teams in the Wimmera Hockey Association’s Open and Women’s competitions continued their dominance, but the battles for the remaining places in the finals are heating up.
Early in the season most of the best teams from last season had established themselves at the top of the ladders, but some recent results have taken away some of the predictability from this season.
After another win, the Cobras have now drawn level on points with the second placed Hoops on the Open division ladder and despite a draw with an improving Warrack Women team, the Kaniva Women have moved back into third place on the Women’s ladder.
Both of the two top teams on the Under 16 ladder suffered defeats evening up their competition and the Warracknabeal Under 12s team also enjoyed their first win for the season
Although the Yanac Tigers continue to defeat all challengers to remain undefeated in the Open competition, the other five teams are all still in the race for the remaining three places in the finals.
The Kaniva Cobras took a big step on Saturday to confirm one of these places when they overcame a sluggish Hoops team to not only claim the win, but by doing so drew even on points with the second placed Hoops, although goal difference keeps them in third place.
Both teams remained scoreless in the first half, with the Cobras’ strong long hitting being matched by the Hoops’ quick short passing game.
The deadlock was broken at the 15 minute mark of the second half when Lachlan Clark was able to breach the strong Warrack defence to convert a short corner.
Great defending by the Hoops’ backline, highlighted by some confident reflex deflections by goalkeeper Russel Brown, prevented the Cobras from adding to their score, but they were also denied the opportunity to score at the other end of the field and the game finished in a one goal win for the Cobras.
The latest team to attempt to blemish the Yanac Tiger’s 2017 record was the Horsham Hurricanes, but they too failed to take the points when they finished with a six goal loss.
Despite dominating the first ten minutes of the game the Tigers only scored once during this period, through Kim Croot, to establish a one goal lead, and a resurgent Hurricanes found their form and were then able to match their higher ranked opponents until half time, preventing any further scoring.
Yanac stepped up their positional play and passing after the break and were able to stretch their lead by another five goals whilst also preventing any scoring by the Hurricanes. Croot scored a second goal, and Simon Farmers, Brad Alexander, Seth Croot and Todd Alexander all scored once each.
Above - Nhill Ranger Mika McCarthy clears the ball away from two Dimboola Burra opponents.
The Dimboola Burras found some form and recorded their first win since round one when they defeated a determined Nhill Rangers, and in the process have risen back into the top four, displacing the Hurricanes with a superior goal difference.
The Burras dominated procession early in the game and had scored two goals by half time, to which they added another two in the second half.
The Rangers could only manage one goal, though Blake Miller, in the first half but could not add to this. Lachlan Schultz scored two of the Burras’ goals, and Caleb Halsall and Jack Lovett scored the other two.
An improving Warrack Women fought back from one goal down to register a draw in their game against the Kaniva Women.
After a tight scoreless first half, it was Lisa Stimson from Kaniva who was the first to find the goals from a short corner midway through the second half.
Warrack stepped up their pressure and despite a series of short corners it was a field goal by Kelly Krahe that evened the scores late in the game. Neither team was able to break the impasse and the game ended with a draw, although this was enough to allow Kaniva to climb one place to third on the ladder and has kept Warrack’s opportunity to qualify for the finals alive.
A goal in the first minute by Ashlyn Allen of the Horsham Jets started a quick free flowing game with the Yanac Women and another goal to Allen, and one to Ellen Wheaton from Yanac, gave the Jets a one goal lead at half time.
Early after the break Shanaye Alexander evened the scores and the game looked headed for a draw until Launa Schilling converted a short corner two minutes before the final whistle to put the Jets ahead.
A very even first 15 minutes between the Dimboola Roos and Nhill Thunderbirds did not foreshadow the ultimate result which would be an 8 goals to one victory to the former team.
Two goals each to Kelly Smithyman and Adina King and singles to Rebecca Lovett, Mikaela Zikich, Peta Clark and Hannah Coles of the Roos could only be matched by one to Ellie Murden of the Thunderbirds.
With both of the leading teams in the Under 16 competition suffering losses on Saturday, the top four in this division is becoming much closer than it appeared after the reigning premiers were undefeated after five rounds. There is now only ten points, which is less than three wins, between first and fourth places.
The game between the Nhill Leopards and the Dimboola Kangaroos was another close game, with the Kangaroos taking the early lead with a goal Lachie Geary which was extended to two goals just after the start of the second half when Teo Haines found the goals.
The next two goals were scored by Blake Miller of the Leopards which evened the scores with ten minutes remaining. Bradley Walker scored what would prove to be the winning goal for Dimboola two minutes later.
The Kaniva Raiders took advantage of an undermanned Warrack Revengers and through Luke Shalders gained the lead in the first half which they extended with a field goal to Tyson Mitchell in the second half.
The Revengers played hard and although they created many opportunities on their forward line, they were unable to get on the scoreboard and endured only their second loss for the season.
The Warracknabeal Under 12s team enjoyed their first win for 2017 when they overcame the Kaniva Rampagers in a close game by 3 goals to 2.
The Yanac Lowan Stars defeated the Horsham Blackhawks and the Dimboola Kookaburras finished ahead of the Nhill Bandits.
State Country Championships
All local teams have a bye next week whilst the eighth Junior State Championships are being held in Melbourne. This event is the pinnacle representative junior hockey event for the winter season and is contested by six metropolitan zones and four regional zones, with both boys and girls divisions for Under 13, 15 and 17 age groups.
The Wimmera will have two representatives in the North West Lightning teams, with Kaniva’s Luke Shalders playing in the Under 15 division and Sandon Schultz from Warracknabeal in the Under 17
Round Ten Preview
The Wimmera competition will resume on the following weekend with round ten at Warracknabeal’s Anzac Park.
Feature games will include the top of the ladder clash in the Under 16 competition where the winner out of the Nhill Leopards and the Warrack Revengers will claim outright top position.
Another matchup between leading teams will occur in the Women’s division where the same scenario exists, with top spot on the ladder going to the winner of the Dimboola Roos and Horsham Jets game.
The Warrack Women have the chance to continue their recent improving form when they encounter the Nhill Thunderbirds, the team just above them on the ladder, and the winner of the Kaniva and Yanac game will consolidate their hold on the third place on the ladder.
In the open competition, the Kaniva Cobras take on the undefeated Yanac Tigers and a win would take them past the Warrack Hoops into outright second place.
With the Dimboola Burras and Horsham Hurricanes tied on points and in fourth and fifth places respectively, the winner of their game will take a big step towards a place in the finals.
Round Nine Results
Kaniva Cobras 1 (Goal - L Clark; Best - L Clark, A Wallis, D Cole) defeated Warrack Hoops 0 (Best - R Bennett, M Williamson, H Wagenknecht)
Dimboola Burras 4 (Goals - L Schultz 2, J Lovett, C Halsall) defeated Nhill Rangers 1 (Goal - B Miller; Best - D Delaney, M McCarthy, Mont Miller)
Yanac Tigers 6 (Goals - K Croot 2, B Alexander, S Farmers, S Croot, T Alexander; Best - B Alexander, T Alexander, S Farmers) defeated Horsham Hurricanes 0 (Best - W Gulline, P Mackereth, T Bannan)
| || Pts || GD |
| Yanac Tigers || 36 || 26 |
| Warrack Hoops || 24 || 16 |
| Kaniva Cobras || 24 || 5 |
| Dimboola Burras || 10 || -8 |
| Horsham Hurricanes || 10 || -15 |
| Nhill Rangers || 4 || -23 |
Kaniva Women 1 (Goal - L Stimson; Best - R Clark, L Stimson, J Bothe) drew with Warrack Women 1 (Goal - K Krahe; Best - A Morrow, D Robinson, K Krahe)
Horsham Jets 3 (Goals - A Allen 2, L Schilling; Best - S Robinson, L Schilling, R Creek) defeated Yanac Women 2 (Goals - S Alexander, E Wheaton; Best - M Farmers, C Beattie, S Alexander)
Dimboola Roos 8 (Goals - L Smithyman 2, A King 2, R Lovett, P Clarke, H Coles; Best - A Baker, R Lovett, J Klinge) defeated Nhill Thunderbirds 1 (Goal - E Murden; Best - M Lovera, A Rintoule, G McLeod)
| || Pts || GD |
| Dimboola Roos || 32 || 23 |
| Horsham Jets || 28 || 17 |
| Kaniva Women || 18 || -3 |
| Yanac Women || 16 || -3 |
| Nhill Thunderbirds || 10 || -13 |
| Warrack Women || 4 || -21|
Kaniva Raiders 2 (Goals - L Shalders, T Mitchell; Best - L Shalders, J Mitchell, H Braisby, T Mitchell) defeated Warrack Revengers 0 (Best - S Schultz, L Klemm, F Eilola, B Williamson)
Yanac Warriors 1 (Goal - C Hassell; Best - J Croot, S Pipkorn, M Farmers) defeated Horsham Bombers 0 (Best - T Roberts, C Dodson, S Hallett)
Dimboola Kangaroos 3 (Goals - B Walker, L Geary, T Haines; Best - N Krelle, R Albrecht, T Krelle, L Geary) defeated Nhill Leopards 2 (Goals - B Miller 2; Best - B Miller, E Murden, S Delaney)
| || Pts || GD |
| Nhill Leopards || 28 || 29 |
| Warrack Revengers || 26 || 16 |
| Dimboola Kangaroos || 24 || 10 |
| Kaniva Raiders || 18 || -6 |
| Yanac Warriors || 8 || -18 |
| Horsham Bombers || 4 || -31|
Dimboola Kookaburras 4 (Goals - Logan Krelle 4) defeated Nhill Bandits 2 (Goals - Troye McBride, Isaac Deckert)
Warracknabeal 3 (Goals - Hannah Zwar, Harry Zwar, Maggie Butcher; Best - Harry Zwar) defeated Kaniva Rampagers 2 (Goals - Deegan Clark, Ellie Williamson; Best - Deegan Clark)
Yanac Lowan Stars 6 (Goals - Archie Zanker 2, Rourkey Croot 2, Asher Zanker, Caleb Zanker) defeated Horsham Blackhawks 1 (Goal - A Koch)
| || Pts || GD|
| Yanac Lowan Stars || 30 || 20|
| Horsham Blackhawks || 22 || -5|
| Dimboola Kookaburras || 18 || 9|
| Kaniva Rampagers || 18 || 8|
| Nhill Bandits || 16 || -10|
| Warracnabeal || 4 || -22|