Star carry local hopes
ACTION in the JH Williams League Shield hockey competition concludes this weekend with local team Northern Star to play Waratahs in the first semi-final and Capri to play Burleigh in the second today on the Gold Coast before the grand final at Murwillumbah tomorrow.
Northern Star has been Far North Coast’s best-performed team and are deserving of their chance to reach tomorrow’s grand final; having completed the regular season undefeated.
Away to Waratahs will be a test for the local team.
Where Waratahs’ strength lies is in attack where they can create chances from almost nothing. However, Star has an excellent defensive record with Aaron Head one of the best goalkeepers the Northern Rivers has produced.
In front of Head, Star has Darryl Hughes, an experienced and capable fullback who creates opportunities from his defensive circle.
Hughes will be looking for captain Thomas Vantaggiato in the midfield who will be hoping that Chris McGuiness and Mitch Carter can put the goals on the board.
Waratahs have earned their reputation as one of the most consistent sides to play the game on the Northern Rivers.
Their club holds the record for the most consecutive A grade premiership in any of the three competitions – in excess of 20 on the trot.
Tim Willis will lead Waratahs by example and he is probably the best forward in the game but he will have to be at his best in this match.
Jamie Hetherington will head up their defence and he too can create attacking opportunities from the backs.
Waratahs are a complete team and their advantage will be their teamwork and how well they know each other and their game.
Capri is another class outfit that have been very consistent in this competition also being undefeated whereas Burleigh has been solid but not as consistent. Former North Coast players for Capri Brad Mathers and Adam McGowan have been in great form and will be the spearhead of Capri’s attack and defence respectively. Capri won their pool and Burleigh was runners up in theirs and my thoughts are that Capri will be to strong today.
Locally, at Hepburn Park today, East Lismore will be playing Alstonville and Coraki will be up against Ballina. These games could go either way. Northern Star is the front runner in the local premiership and Ballina would be the most likely side to go out of the local competition but that has changed in recent weeks.
Alstonville is a well-drilled side and fast improving and appear as they want to improve and they will test Easts, which has been struggling to field their regular side and almost created an upset last round only going down 2-1 to Coraki with an almost a reserve grade side.
Coraki, without Robbie Powell and Craig Brown, will not be at their best and Ballina are improving so that game could go either way. There is the ability to improve in both these sides.