Hockey grand final looks a cracker

CORAKI and Northern Star will clash in what looks like another cracker of a grand final in Far North Coast A-grade men’s hockey today.

The game will be played on the turf at Hepburn Park, Goonellabah, starting at 4.30pm.

Star are A-grade minor premiers and had last week off while Coraki played East Lismore in an energy-sapping preliminary final.

Both sides are capable of winning the premiership and it will be all about seizing opportunities.

Hockey generally is built from defence – and both teams have great defence.

Chris Morgan will lead Coraki’s defensive unit and Darryl Hughes will head up Star’s.

When it comes to skilled and fair players these two set a great example and their individual performances will be crucial.

Goalkeepers Jordan Ryan (Coraki) and Aaron Head (Star) have been performing well with Ryan instrumental in Coraki’s win over East Lismore last Saturday, making three brilliant individual saves.

In the midfield, where the ingredients go into the pot, Coraki have the experienced Trent Brown, who has been in this position time and again, as opposed to the less experienced but equally capable Brad Hassett for Star.

These two will be responsible for the balance knowing when to hold, when to pass, taking the right option and creating the opportunity.

Former State player and international selector Ken Wark snr, father of Ken Wark jnr (who played for Australia as fullback for years) was a long-time coach of the Glebe club in Sydney.

He once told me that when selecting a side the first man he picked was the centre-half and the second was left wing.

I have found that statement to be true and the game will be about what Brown and Hassett can do.

In the goal-scoring department, both sides have a number of options but the men to watch are David Brown (Coraki) and Thomas Vantaggiato (Star).

Brown and Vantaggiato can score goals but more importantly have the skill and nous to draw the defence and make accurate passes for unmarked teammates.

Coraki have the unpredictable Ben Moss and Star have Matt Harmon.

Both players will be looking to make their own mark but will also be there to finish off the set plays.

There is a balance of youth and experience in both sides and while Northern Star may be a little fitter, the game will be more about brains than brawn, and the smarter team should prevail.

Minor premiers feature in the other three grand finals, with Coraki against Star in reserve grade, Star and North Lismore in B-grade, and on the grass Alstonville and Ballina in C-grade.

Coraki’s juniors have set the bar for the senior club, winning all three boys grand finals last Saturday.

Coraki defeated East Lismore in the Under-15s and Ballina in the Under-11s.

Two Coraki teams played off in the Under-13s.

In the A-grade women’s grand final today, Glee will play Northern Star in a bid for a 10th consecutive premiership.

The game hits off at 3pm.

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