Men’s final looks too close to call

FAR North Coast A-grade men’s hockey has been close all year with wins going to which-ever team is in form on the day, so the preliminary final this evening between early favourites East Lismore and JH Williams finalists Coraki is way too close to call.

Coraki have some of the most experienced players in the competition with a defensive unit led by Australian Over-45s goalkeeper Pete Ryan and support from former Australian captain Warren Birmingham and Chad Morgan.

It is a tough defence to crack.

Birmingham and Morgan contribute to Coraki’s ability to quickly break out of defence through the accuracy of their passes.

Delivering the ball quickly to a hungry forward line has been a feature of their game this season but it was lacking in the major semi-final last Saturday.

With talented forwards such as Mitchell Dunstan, Adrian McGrath and Simon Brown, who can cut loose with a well-delivered pass, East Lismore’s defence will face a tough challenge if Coraki are on their game.

In contrast, East Lismore are a young, albeit equally talented, side.

With Raymond Rodda, Matt Currie and Adam Moss shutting down the centre of the field and Ryan Holding and Jamie Hetherington out wide in defence, the Coraki forward line may not have a lot of room to move.

Up front for Easts is speedster Dan Riley and goal-scoring machine Simon Mackney, whose ability to finish opportunities created in the circle is phenomenal.

This match will be a contrast in styles with Coraki’s innate desire to push forward with the ball at speed up against Easts’ ability to control the pace of the game and transfer the ball to create the openings.
This match could go either way and should be a cracker.

Nothing separates women’s teams

WITH nothing separating Ballina and Northern Star all year, the women’s preliminary final should be another close one.

Ballina have found more structure in their attack under new coach Jake Baldry, with Emily and Georgia Hunter along with Ashley Gibson moving the ball around well up front.

Added to this is Kerrilee Brown’s ability to find space and get the shot away in the circle, so Star’s defence will be kept on their toes.

The versatility of Amanda Moss, Alison Porter and Michelle Anderson has provided options through the midfield and Ballina will be looking to these senior players to provide leadership and to settle the nerves of their younger team-mates.

With the talented Sarah Norton in goals, supported by one of the best scramblers in the game in Vickie Morgan, the Ballina defence can be difficult to score against, so Star will need to be on target.

Star forwards Ashli Olive, Amanda West and Tracey Makings have been combining well and with
Katrina Phelps added to the mix they have the ability to outpace the Ballina defence if they can string together their passes.

With speed on their side, the Star forwards may be difficult to rein in if they get away.

While nerves may be an issue for both sides Star have the experience of Danielle Seiffert and captain Leanne Albertini to draw on.

Australian Under-21 goalkeeper Erin McKenzie will be protecting the net for Star and Ballina will need to produce well-constructed penalty corners and come up with well-placed shots to get past her.

McKenzie’s reach is superb when she is on her game.

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