Ballina may have the edge in hockey final
By JIM CHALLENOR
THE 2005 JH Williams Premier Hockey League reaches its climax today with the top two teams, Waratahs and Ballina, meeting in the final at Murwillumbah at 4pm.
The finalists are the two most exciting teams in the competition. Head to head this year, Ballina have the edge after winning their seventh-round encounter 3-2.
Each side scored on average more than 21⁄2 goals for every goal it conceded. Both won 11 games, drew one and lost two, and they even had the same goal differential.
Waratah Bobcats have a young, enthusiastic, quick and dynamic team that continually hounds its opposition.
Mick and Dwayne Newell up front, Tim Willis and Matt Butterini in midfield along with Troy O'Keefe and Mitch Paron in defence form the basis of the side.
Ballina, while still enthusiastic and quick, tend to have more control and depth.
They build up out of the midfield using space more effectively.
Jake Baldry and Daniel Riley give shape up front. Scott Bovis, Grant Smith and Scott Hamilton orchestrate the midfield, while Luke McCowan, Wayne Porter, Peter Taylor, Neil Chaseling and Josh Garrett patrol the backfield.
With so little separating the sides, only the odd goal should decide the winner.
Waratahs have the home field advantage, so the red and white army are sure to have the sideline hopping in what should be a great contest.
n The final of the JH Williams Premier Hockey League women's competition is the culmination of a close season, with five teams in contention up until the last couple of weeks.
Labrador were the only side to put a firm stamp on a final position.
Tweed/Border teams excelled this year with the other eventual finalists, United Vipers, just shading Waratah Falcons and Kingscliff.
The final at Murwillumbah at 2.30pm today is sure to be another tight match.
Labrador will miss the tenacity of Nikki Hudson, who is on national duty against Korea at Ipswich.
However, Labrador have plenty of depth and the more consistent scorers.
Vipers, with the home field advantage, will take a lot of confidence into the match, especially after winning the previous match-up between the teams 3-1 on the Gold Coast.