By Kate Allman
Sparks will fly when the Adelaide Fire jets to the nation’s capital to hit off Round 5 of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League against Canberra Chill.
With four rounds of the seven-week season in the books, teams are entering the home stretch towards the Finals Main Event in Bendigo on 19-20 November. Wins are becoming crucial with only two rounds left to play after this one.
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In the women’s match, a win for the sixth-placed Fire coming off their bye week could catapult the team into the top four alongside third-placed Chill.
Both sides have competitive goalkeepers to hold up a tight battle. The Fire have Team USA keeper Kelsey Bing, while the Chill have rising threat Rene Hunter, who has put together a rock-solid resume for national selection after returning from wrist surgeries during the pandemic.
Gabi Nance in the forward line for Adelaide Fire has been a name on commentators’ lips – quickly becoming a fan favourite for her sprees of skilful attack and knack for penetrating the circle, despite retiring from international hockey in 2020.
Nance’s combination with the strength and cunning of Hockeyroos captain Jane Claxton in the Fire’s midfield has been a key element of their early-season success. However, the Fire will be without Claxton tomorrow night so others will need to step up if the South Australians are to notch a win on the road.
The Fire have a task ahead in getting around 2019 MVP and Chill defender Shihori Oikawa, who collects touches like a magnet at the top of her defensive D.
Former Hockeyroo Kalindi Commerford lurks perilously in the Chill’s midfield. Commerford has proven she can play with ice in her veins, staying composed in heated moments while also lighting up the pitch with impressive speed.
Mikayla Evans returns for the Chill list this week, while Round 4 debutant and goal scorer Stephanie Kindon rotates out.
In the men’s match, the Adelaide Fire need to quickly find momentum. They almost did against the NSW Pride in Round 3, showing flashes of brilliance in a tense 4-3 loss to the premiership favourites.
But the Fire are missing scoring machine Jack Holland while he’s in Malaysia playing for the Under 21 Burras at the Sultan of Johor Cup.
It will be up to his co-conspirators Brodie Gleeson and Angus Fry in the forward line to make up for the gap. At the back, reliable force Tom Cleghorn puts up a wall in front of versatile keeper Christian Starkie.
Canberra Chill’s high striker, the inimitable former Kookaburra Glenn Turner, reportedly tore a hamstring last week as he collided like a steam train into a hapless Tim Deavin of the Tassie Tigers.
He’ll be watching from the sidelines this week. But one less striker should be no concern for Chill midfielder Davis Atkin, who electrified crowds with a late converted field goal to pull his team back from a 4-1 deficit at two minutes to go against the Tigers last week.
The Chill are riding high after winning last week’s penalty shootout in a stunning upset against the Tigers. Their Kookaburras keeper Andrew Charter defiantly showing why he’s still top of the nation’s depth chart.
Last time these teams met, Chill women couldn’t get on the board as Adelaide Fire took the game 4-0, while the Chill men won a 10-goal thriller 6-4.
Canberra Chill v Adelaide Fire
Thursday 27 October 2022
National Hockey Centre, ACT
Match Start: Women’s 6:30pm local (6:30pm AEDT), Men’s 8:00pm local (8:00pm AEDT)
Broadcast: LIVE and exclusive on Kayo and FOX Sports #CCHvADL #HockeyOne
Umpires: Emily Carroll & Kristy Robertson (Women’s), Stirling Sharpe & Jim Unkles (Men’s)
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikayla Evans, 4.Madison Doar, 6.Katie Doar, 7.Naomi Evans (c), 8.Laura Reid, 11.Sophie Gaughan, 14.Emily Robson, 16.Shihori Oikawa, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 24.Sarah White, 25.Lauren Yee, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)
In: 1.Mikayla Evans
Out: 20.Stephanie Kindon
Adelaide Fire Women’s team: 1.Linzi Appleyard, 4.Chloe Carter, 5.Kelsey Bing (gk), 8.Holly Evans-Gill, 10.Carly Hoffmann, 11.Lucy Sharman, 13.Sarah Harrison (c), 16.Jet Mallinson, 17.Siennah Cowles, 18.Erin Cameron, 19.Gabi Nance, 20.Hattie Shand, 21.Miki Spano, 23.Izzy Gill, 30.Julia King
In: 16.Jet Mallinson, 18.Erin Cameron
Out: 9.Lucy Holland-Smith, 15.Jane Claxton
Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 4.James Day, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 7.Ben Craig (c), 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 11.Garry Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 15.Hayden Dillon, 16.Oscar Smart, 17.Aidan Dooley, 19.Jeremy Hopkins, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
In: 16.Oscar Smart, 19.Jeremy Hopkins
Out: 3.Anand Gupte, 14.Glenn Turner
Adelaide Fire Men’s team: 1.Tom Cleghorn, 2.Connor Richmond-Spouse, 3.Isaac Whittaker, 6.Angus Fry, 7.Geoff Abbott, 8.Brodie Gleeson, 9.Fred Gray, 12.Mitchell Dell, 14.Nathan Hochman, 15.William Abbott, 18.Alastair Oliver, 19.Glyn Tamlin (c), 20.Matthew Magann, 22.Christian Starkie (gk), 23.Cameron White
In: 3.Isaac Whittaker, 14.Nathan Hochman
Out: 5.Jack Holland, 21.Michael Doan