Canberra Chill has secured the last women’s finals spot, while HC Melbourne Men did what they needed to do to give themselves every chance of progressing to the Main Event on a dramatic night of the JDH Hockey One League.
HC Melbourne Men’s finals dream is well and truly alive after they withstood Canberra Chill 4-2 in an entertaining affair.
All four of HC Melbourne Men’s goals came in eight minutes of game time as they leapfrogged the Tassie Tigers into third spot with the win. Their path to the finals will be secured if Adelaide Fire or the Perth Thundersticks lose outright.
Then in the battle for all-important fourth spot on the women’s standings, Canberra Chill edged out the hosts 2-1 to book their semi final berth.
The Chill join the Perth Thundersticks, Brisbane Blaze and NSW Pride as the four finalists.
With a host of possible permutations in the men’s competition entering the final round, HC Melbourne knew a win would put them more than in finals calculations.
The Chill had a handful of glorious chances early in the piece with Davis Atkin, the Staines brothers and Hayden Dillon at the heart of attacks.
HC Melbourne gradually started to work their way into the contest, Kookaburras forward Nathan Ephraums launching a stinging shot that was parried away by Brendan Hill in the Chill goal.
Hill then kept out a Damon Steffens drag flick as the game continued to see action at both ends.
Then in the 27th minute a quick circle entry created some confusion among the Chill defence, opening the door for James Knee who managed to sneak his shot on the reverse inside the near post. Hill did well to save Knee’s conversion attempt to limit the damage to one goal.
Two minutes into the second half Junior World Cup bound Liam Henderson pounced to tuck the ball past Hill to double the host’s advantage. He followed it up with a well-executed conversion to push the lead out to three.
HC Melbourne could smell blood and when Josh Simmonds rifled an unstoppable drag flick into the backboard Canberra Chill had a mountain in front of them.
However, after coughing up a four-goal lead last weekend they knew what was required to wrestle their way back into the contest.
The response came courtesy of a Connor Tuddenham tomahawk from next to the penalty spot and when he scored the resultant conversion, the game was set up for a grandstand finish.
A Chill penalty corner with eight minutes to go saw Rupinder Pal Singh drag flick just kept out by Kookaburras goalkeeper Johan Durst.
Steffens thought he had shut the gate when his drag flick bulged the back of the net but it was ruled out for the ball not going outside of the circle from the injection.
However it would matter little as the Chill could not find a way through late to send it to a shootout.
The penalty corner count finished nine to two in favour of the home side, signalling they will not be in Canberra just to make up the numbers if they make it through.
“That was really frantic and a bit nervous, especially when they scored to bring it back to 4-2, but we stuck to our process and are really glad we’ve put ourselves in a position to be there (in the finals) next week,” said Simmonds.
“We went away from the game plan a little bit due to Canberra’s pressure, but we knew what we had to do in the second half, so we’re really pleased.”
In the women’s match, there was everything to play for as fifth hosted fourth, HC Melbourne needing to win outright to climb into the finals.
The start did not go to script for the home side as Lauren Yee struck inside seven minutes when she tapped the ball home after Kalindi Commerford put the ball into a dangerous area. Yee was comfortably denied by HC Melbourne goalkeeper Rachael Lynch on the conversion.
The home side was back on level terms five minutes later when capped Hockeyroo Olivia Downes did magnificently from an acute angle to slide her shot past Rene Hunter.
The Chill goalkeeper enacted revenge by keeping out Downes’ conversion attempt to leave the contest delicately poised.
Repeated penalty corners to start the third quarter had HC Melbourne’s tails up, however the Chill’s first entry into the circle of the second half resulted in a penalty corner and they would make theirs count. Kaitlin Cotter struck a well timed drag flick low past Lynch.
Another Chill penalty corner had Lynch diving well to save before Hunter did just well at the other end at the start of the last quarter to deny an Ash Utri drag flick that was heading for the bottom corner.
Lynch was removed with five minutes to go as time started to go against the home side. They tried in vain to register the two goals that would give them the required result, but with the opportunity to play finals in front of a parochial home Canberra crowd next weekend, the Chill were not going to relinquish their lead.
“We’re stoked…we’ve worked so hard. It all started back in June and these girls deserve to be in the finals so I’m glad we got the win,” said Chill captain Naomi Evans.
Every match of the JDH Hockey One League 2023 Season is LIVE and free on 7plus.
Match Details – Men’s Match
HC Melbourne 4 (Knee 27’, Henderson 32’/32’, Simmonds 35’)
Canberra Chill 2 (Tuddenham 49’/49’)
Friday 17 November 2023
Melbourne Sports Centre – Parkville
HC Melbourne Men’s team: 1.Craig Marais, 4.Liam Henderson, 5.Douglas Buckley, 6.Damon Steffens, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Lachlan Steinfort, 11.Cooper Burns, 12.Connar Otterbach, 14.James Knee, 15.Josh Simmonds (c), 18.Johan Durst (gk), 19.Jordan Rees, 20.Nye Roberts, 22.Ben White, 26.Eden Davis
Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 4.Jaume Torras, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 12.Jake Staines, 14.Koby Johnstone, 15.Hayden Dillon (c), 16.Oscar Smart, 18.Jeremy Hopkins, 22.Jay Macdonald, 24.Davis Atkin, 32.Brendan Hill (gk), 33.Rupinder Pal Singh
Match Details – Women’s Match
HC Melbourne 1 (Downes 12’)
Canberra Chill 2 (Yee 7’, Cotter 34’)
Friday 17 November 2023
Melbourne Sports Centre – Parkville
HC Melbourne Women’s team: 2.Aisling Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 5.Krissy Bates, 7.Ciara Utri, 9.Carly James, 10.Rosario Villagra, 11.Joanne Peeters, 13.Megan Alakus, 14.Laura Barden, 15.Olivia Downes, 18.Amelie Green, 20.Zali Ward, 23.Samantha Snow, 25.Hannah Gravenall (c), 27.Rachael Lynch (gk)
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 2.Katie Mullan, 5.Claudia Johnston, 6.Roisin Upton, 7.Naomi Evans (c), 8.Sarah Hawkshaw, 9.Samantha Economos, 11.Tamsin Bunt, 13.Edwina Bone, 17.Kaitlin Cotter, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 25.Lauren Yee, 29.Madeline Dooley, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)