HC Melbourne Women score ten as Tassie Men miss Finals

By Adam Clifford

HC Melbourne Women clinched top spot in emphatic style before the Men’s team stunningly distinguished Tassie’s championship aspirations in a night that saw 21 goals scored in the opening double header of the final round of the Sultana Bran Hockey One 2022 Season.

Women’s Match

HC Melbourne have sent out an ominous warning to their title rivals, sealing top spot after the regular season with a 10-3 defeat of the Tassie Tigers in Melbourne.

Incredible four goal hauls from returning star Madi Ratcliffe and Olivia Downes and a fine brace from Belgium Joanne Peeters inside the first three quarters set up a record women’s Hockey One League score line.

Tassie were overwhelmed by the class of HC Melbourne, led by Hockeyroos star Amy Lawton and New Zealander Hannah Cotter, but fought hard to earn two goals from Lucy Cooper and another from Maddy Brooks.

But it was the story around Ratcliffe’s incredible return from a nasty knee injury that stole the show, with the former Hockeyroo taking just 45 seconds to register her first two goals and scoring twice more from set pieces.

“I’m so sore. That was a bit of a blow out for me,” Ratcliffe said post-match.

“I haven’t played much hockey because of my injury but I just wanted to contribute to the girls.”

“Obviously, they have finished top of the ladder, so I’m just happy to play a little part.”

While the score line indicated a resounding victory for the home side, Ratcliffe was delighted to see her side raise their performance on the cusp of the final’s series in Bendigo next weekend.

“I think that they (Tassie) have some really strong players in their team and are unlucky they didn’t make finals, but I’m super happy with the way that we played,” Ratcliffe added.

“It was the first game I’ve been a part of this year and I was really impressed with the girls, especially some of the young ones, so it’s really exciting moving forward this week hopefully.”

Earlier, Ratcliffe’s opening minute fireworks were all that the home side had to show for a dominant first quarter, before five goals in seven second quarter minutes broke the match wide open.

Downes’ two converted field goals were split by Ratcliffe’s third from a penalty corner as they feasted upon the young Tigers side.

But the visitors weren’t without their own scoring opportunities, with a brilliant tomahawk shot from Maddy Brooks striking the upright post, before a late scramble from Carly James prevented the rebound from rolling across the line.

Brooks returned shorter after to assist Cooper, who deftly touched home through the near post and duly converted to ensure the half-time siren sounded with a 7-2 half-time score line.

Peeters smashed a goal into the top lefthand corner of the net and converted with a neat tomahawk goal to make it 9-2, before Ratcliffe made it double figures with a deflected flick.

The goals dried up but the action was still unrelenting, as the Tigers squandered four set pieces before Brooks earned a late consolation goal with her trademark quick thinking and tomahawk finish.

HC Melbourne will now head to Bendigo’s Finals Main Event full of confidence that they can go one better than the 2019 edition but must await the results of Friday and Saturday’s remaining fixtures before their semi-final opponent is known.

Match Details
HC Melbourne 10 (Ratcliffe 1’/1’/25’/42’, Downes 23’/23’/29’/29’, Peeters 38’/38’)
Tassie Tigers 3 (Cooper 29’/29’, M.Brooks 60’)
Thursday 10 November 2022
Melbourne Sports Centre – Parkville
Umpires: Iris Milham & Nicola Brown

HC Melbourne Women’s team: 1.Bridget Laurance (gk), 2.Ash Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 4.Amy Lawton, 5.Krissy Bates, 86.Josie Lawton, 8.Hannah Cotter, 9.Carly James, 11.Joanne Peeters, 12.Emily Hamilton-Smith, 13.Megan Alakus, 14.Anna Moore, 15.Olivia Downes, 22.Madi Ratcliffe, 25.Hannah Gravenall (c)

Tassie Tigers Women’s team: 1.Sarah McCambridge, 3.Hannah Richardson, 4.Maddi Brooks, 5.Taylor Brooks, 7.Maddy Murphy (c), 8.Cassie Sumfest, 9.Emily Donovan, 10.Kiah Williams, 11.Eliza Westland, 12.Lou Maddock, 14.Brooke DeBerdine, 15.Lucy Cooper, 20.Beth Dobbie, 21.Lauren Canning, 25.Evie Dalton (gk)


Men’s Match

The Tassie Tigers’ finals hopes were crushed by a dominant HC Melbourne performance, as the hosts farewelled Victorian hockey legend Russell Ford in perfect fashion.

Needing a win to secure their ticket to Bendigo next weekend, the Tigers never reached the heights of their earlier performances to be overwhelmed 6-2 by the home side.

The victory for HC Melbourne was also a case of too little too late for their 2022 campaign but demonstrated their potential to contend in next year’s edition, according to skipper Josh Simmonds.

“One hundred percent this win really builds our momentum heading into next season,” Simmonds said post-match.

“This was another big win for a young club, so I couldn’t be more rapped (with their consecutive big win victories to end the season).”

After conceding twenty-two goals in the opening four rounds, Simmonds attributed HC Melbourne’s recipe for success as stemming from their defensive efforts.

“It’s been a big focus for our defence, about closing out games, and circle defence was a big one,” said Simmonds.

“We definitely were under pressure in that last quarter, but at the other end of the spectrum to put away that many goals is really, really good.”

At the final siren, former Kookaburras star Ford brought down the curtain on his 20 year national hockey league career in front of family and friends, including his six week old child.

“It’s been a fun twenty years or whatever it’s been. I’ve loved running out with all these boys each and every week and I told them before the game that they are the reason I keep coming back to play each year. But it’s nice to finish on a win tonight and it was good fun,” Ford said.

The match itself will be a horrid replay watch for the Tigers, as they conceded two early half chances to Nathan Copey.

Damon Steffens opened the scoring with a blistering penalty corner flick in the 13th minute, as the Tigers were reduced to ten men with the sin binning of Gobind Gill.

Similarly, Jeremy Hayward smashed home an equaliser in the 21st minute as HC Melbourne were down to ten players with Jonathan Bretherton’s dismissal.

The pattern sadly continued with Tiger Josh Brooks yellow carded, as Nathan Ephraums appeared to deflect home from Steffens’ incisive pass with just sixteen seconds remaining in the first half.

Ephraums, named by Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter as the best one on one penalty taker in the country pre-tournament, duly stepped up to effortlessly convert into the roof of the net and make it 3-1 at the main break.

Still down a player, HC Melbourne edged further ahead when Simmonds converted a penalty stroke, awarded after a controversial penalty corner had been given to put the Tigers out of the fry pan and into the fire.

17 year old Ruben Hoey almost pegged a remarkable goal back for the Tigers but sent his effort from Eddie Ockenden inches wide, before Hayward landed his second of the match to make it 4-2.

But no sooner were they back in touch, HC Melbourne scored two quick goals through Craig Marais and Steffens to take they lead back to four goals.

The Tigers, with destiny slipping from their hands, threw the kitchen sink at the hosts in the final term but their efforts were repelled as their party was well and truly spoiled.

Both sides will now contemplate what could have been, as the top four challengers for the Sultana Bran Hockey One League title were confirmed.

Match Details
HC Melbourne 6 (Steffens 13’/45’, Ephraums 30’/30’, Simmonds 32’, Marais 43’)
Tassie Tigers 2 (Hayward 21’/41’)
Thursday 10 November 2022
Melbourne Sports Centre – Parkville
Umpires: Jim Unkles & Ben Hocking

HC Melbourne Men’s team: 1.Craig Marais, 2.Max Hendry, 3.Jonathan Bretherton, 4.Liam Henderson, 5.Doug Buckley, 6.Damon Steffens, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Lachlan Steinfort, 10.Russell Ford, 11.Cooper Burns, 13.Jayshaan Randhawa, 15.Josh Simmonds (c), 17.Kiran Arunasalam, 18.Johan Durst (gk), 22.Nathan Copey

Tassie Tigers Men’s team: 2.Tyler McDonald, 4.Hayden Beltz, 6.Josh Brooks, 7.Josh Mardell, 9.Jeremy Edwards, 10.Ruben Hoey, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 13.Joshua Beltz (c), 14.Jack Welch, 15.Kieron Arthur, 19.Tim Deavin, 22.Oliver Pritchard, 23.Henry Chambers (gk), 27.Gobindraj Gill, 32.Jeremy Hayward