The nation’s capital turned on another pulsating night of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League as Canberra Chill and HC Melbourne came away with a win apiece in the men’s and women’s double header.
Over 1,400 piled into Canberra’s National Hockey Centre as Canberra Chill’s Men notched up their first points before HC Melbourne Women rebounded from last week’s home loss to defeat the Chill 2-0.
Hooley Dooley, the Chill freeze out HC Melbourne. It was a perfect homecoming for the Canberra Chill Men, who defied their moniker to run hot, comprehensively defeating pre-game favourites HC Melbourne 4-0 to open their Sultana Bran Hockey One League account.
While the pre-match talk had centred around the return of former Kookaburras stars Russell Ford (HC Melbourne) and Glenn Turner (Canberra Chill), it was the hosts’ finishing skills that left the lasting impression.
In stark contrast, HC Melbourne’s penalty corner troubles followed them to the nation’s capital as Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter and his Chill defenders kept a clean sheet, denying eight penalty corner opportunities.
The visitors had entered the match winless and having scored just two of sixteen set pieces, and their inability to take their chances continued to haunt them against a clinical Chill side.
“We just finished the ball tonight,” Canberra Chill defender James Day said post-match.
“Last week against Brisbane we created chances, but I think tonight we didn’t really miss a shot.”
“It was as if every time we got in the circle we punished them, so it was a good performance from everyone and a good win as a result.”
Earlier, after seeing off an early half chance from HC Melbourne’s Max Hendry, it was Day that gifted Canberra the perfect start in their return home match.
The tall defender slammed home from their first set piece opportunity in the 5th minute, after great work from Ben Staines and Turner in the build-up.
HC Melbourne looked more inventive going forward in response, with their best chance falling to Craig Marais in the 12th minute, but the rising star’s shot rebounded off the woodwork.
Aidan Dooley gave a strong home crowd its voice when the Chill forward pounced on a defensive howler from the visitors and duly converted on his reverse stick in 25th minute.
The old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ certainly rang true for Dooley, who similarly smashed home his conversion with the same powerful stroke on his reverse.
Cooper Burns looked to spark his side but from the ensuing penalty corner, Ford’s deflection couldn’t be turned in on the half-time siren.
The third term had an electric start, with the seemingly telepathic connection between Day and Ben Staines on full display.
Day’s aerial was brought down by the sideline, before Staines went on an aggressive solo run that sent him to the head of the attacking circle where he found space to dispatch an unstoppable tomahawk strike and extend the margin to 4-0.
The goal of the season contender was also fitting as it was Staines who led a number of eye-catching displays from the Chill’s team sheet.
HC Melbourne continued to throw caution to the wind in search of a way beyond Charter but squandered four final quarter penalty corner opportunities to send them back to the drawing board.
The Chill will now head to Hobart full of confidence ahead of Thursday night’s clash with the Tassie Tigers.
“Next week down in Tassie should be a good game and if we play like tonight, we should give them a good run,” Day commented.
Meanwhile, HC Melbourne will be forced to lick their wounds ahead of the hardest road trip in the men’s competition to meet the Brisbane Blaze on Saturday night from 6:30pm local time.
Canberra Chill 4 (Day 4’, Dooley 25’/26’, B.Staines 34’)
HC Melbourne 0
Thursday 13 October 2022
National Hockey Centre (ACT)
Umpires: Stirling Sharpe & Zeke Newman
Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 3.Anand Gupte, 4.James Day, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 7.Ben Craig (c), 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 12.Jake Staines, 14.Glenn Turner, 15.Hayden Dillon, 17.Aidan Dooley, 22.Jay Macdonald, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
HC Melbourne Men’s team: 1.Craig Marais, 2.Max Hendry, 3.Jonathan Bretherton, 4.Liam Henderson, 6.Damon Steffens, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Lachlan Steinfort, 9.Trent Symss, 10.Russell Ford, 11.Cooper Burns, 13.Jayshaan Randhawa, 15.Josh Simmonds (c), 18.Johan Durst (gk), 20.Josh Bretherton, 21.Jake Sherren
HC Melbourne have bounced back into the winner’s circle by defeating a brave Canberra Chill side 2-0 at the National Hockey Centre to leapfrog their opponents into second position on the Sultana Bran Hockey One League ladder.
After falling 2-0 to the Perth Thundersticks in Round 2, the visitors got their penalty corner battery firing, while Player of the Match Amy Lawton produced another dominant performance in front of Hockeyroos coach Triny Powell’s watchful gaze.
But the gutsy Chill performance was befitting the occasion, whereby their match was scheduled as the main event following the earlier men’s curtain raiser – a concrete example of the sport’s commitment to gender equity.
From the outset, it was obvious that Canberra has arrived with a clear gameplan to pressure and hassle the HC Melbourne back four and it made for a thrilling spectacle.
A chance from Catriona Bailey-Price and two tomahawk opportunities from Kalindi Commerford early in the match, the latter off a long solo run, signalled the home sides intent early in the match.
HC Melbourne’s first attempt on goal wouldn’t come until early in the second term, with a brilliant run from Ash Utri resulting in a chance from Hannah Cotter that stuck the outside of the post.
Both sides traded opportunities with the match played at a frenetic pace, before HC Melbourne slammed home a penalty corner in the shadows of half-time to make it 1-0.
It felt against the run of play, but Amy Lawton was elated to slam home a rebound, after Chill goalie Rene Hunter saved from Joanne Peeters’ initial effort.
It wasn’t long before Melbourne again found the net, but Josie Lawton’s tomahawk was ruled out for being too high on the initial set piece shot.
The visitors were forced to rely on the stability of goalkeeper Rachael Lynch to protect their advantage, with back-to-back opportunities to Naomi Evans and another to Commerford ultimately coming to nought.
The lead would be doubled though with HC Melbourne’s next foray forward, with Utri putting it on a platter for Hannah Cotter to touch home from just their third penalty corner of the game to make it 2-0.
Canberra continued to excite the home crowd until the fire siren, with Bailey-Price’s defence splitting pass finding Evans at the top of the circle with just six seconds on the clock.
But the cutting edge would evade the gallant home side, while Utri struck an elated figure post-match as her side clinched five important away points in the race to qualify for November’s final series in Bendigo.
“Yeah, this is awesome. Last week was really tough,” Utri admitted.
“Perth really gave it to us, but we regrouped this week, had a cracking training throughout the week and we brought it today, which is really nice.”
“Wins are good. Wins are fun. We really enjoyed today. We said at halftime as a group, we were really enjoying our hockey.”
After jumping into second on the Sultana Bran Hockey One ladder, Utri feels the side are well positioned if they can remain disciplined to what works.
“We passed the ball better this week. We’ve got a lot of really good, individual talent but we really star when we put it all together, let the ball do the work and trust each other.”
The Chill will seek to consolidate their top four position away to the Tassie Tigers next Thursday night from 6:30pm, while HC Melbourne will be aiming to defeat a luckless Brisbane Blaze on their home deck next Saturday night from 6:30pm local time.
Canberra Chill 0
HC Melbourne 2 (A.Lawton 30’, Cotter 45’)
Thursday 13 October 2022
National Hockey Centre (ACT)
Umpires: Emily Carroll & Kristy Newman
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikayla Evans, 4.Madison Doar, 6.Katie Doar, 7.Naomi Evans, 8.Laura Reid, 11.Sophie Gaughan, 14.Emily Robson, 16.Shihori Oikawa, 18.Olivia Martin, 19.Riley Smith, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 24.Sarah White, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)
HC Melbourne Women’s team: 2.Aisling Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 4.Amy Lawton, 5.Krissy Bates, 6.Josie Lawton, 8.Hannah Cotter, 9.Carly James, 10.Rosario Villagra, 11.Joanne Peeters, 12.Emily Hamilton-Smith, 13.Megan Alakus, 14.Anna Moore, 15.Olivia Downes, 25.Hannah Gravenall (c), 27.Rachael Lynch (gk)