By KATE ALLMAN
Pride, passion and hockey sticks will clash in the NSW regional town of Parkes on Saturday afternoon for the final double header showdown of the regular season of Sultana Bran Hockey One between Canberra Chill and NSW Pride.
The men play first. Season One champions and defending premiers the NSW Pride will be roaring to snatch points from the Canberra Chill, in order to leapfrog Perth Thundersticks (who sit out their bye this week) and secure a crucial second place finish before Bendigo.
The Pride are currently in fourth position; a loss would mean facing ladder leaders and trophy favourites the Brisbane Blaze men. The Blaze have been on fire in recent weeks and present a monumental hurdle for whichever team faces them on semi-final Saturday next weekend.
The Pride were stung by losses against Brisbane and Tassie in the past two rounds, so have aptly brought in the big guns for this clash.
Kookaburras Flynn Ogilvie, Matthew Dawson and Tom Craig are named to take the field in an enormous boost for the home side. All are Tokyo silver Olympic medalists and supreme international talent.
It will be a mammoth ask for Canberra Chill to freeze out that kind of firepower – but the men have shown they have the cool heads to do it.
Chill midfielder Davis Atkin has gone from strength to strength after bursting onto defenders’ radars with his electric performance in Round Four.
A sibling rivalry also looms between former Kookaburra Ben Craig (Chill) and his younger brother Tom (Pride).
The women’s match has plenty of meaning for the home side in NSW Pride, who boast Parkes local, Hockeyroo star midfielder, and dual-Olympian Mariah Williams. Williams has been setting up plays and directing traffic with aplomb, her experience helping send NSW to a resounding 5-0 win against the Tassie Tigers last week.
Alongside her in the midfield are a raft of weapons including Grace Young, Estelle Hughes, Maddi Smith and Alice Arnott. Arnott rocked the pitch, scoring in her first game back for the Pride last week.
While the Pride are not short of scoring potential, Hockeyroo striker Grace Stewart also returns to the team list after a week off. She has a cool six goals from four games, and will look to add to the stat sheet before the weekend is out.
But the Pride face their biggest test yet against an in-form Canberra Chill women’s side who have one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Rene Hunter’s leadership combined with skill, fitness and incredible reaction time have made scoring tough for all opponents.
The Chill have their own list of stars, too: former Hockeyroo Kalindi COmmerford has controlled the midfield in most matches. Her experience alongside other Australian national players including Naomi Evans and Mikaela Patterson has transformed the Chill into a real contender side.
NSW Pride will also need to quash the impact of the smiling assassin known as Shihori Oikawa, a Japanese national player and season one MVP, who among the league’s most decisive and skilful defenders.
This is a must-win match for both women’s teams to decide who will take the fourth ticket to finals in Bendigo.
In the event of an outright win in regular time, the loser will finish fifth and end their season in Parkes. However, if scores are drawn and the match goes to a penalty shootout, both teams could possibly knock Brisbane out and head to Bendigo in third and fourth.
NSW Pride v Canberra Chill
Saturday 12 November 2022
McGlynn Sporting Complex – Parkes
Match Start: Men’s 3:30pm local (3:30pm AEDT), Women’s 5:00pm local (5:00pm AEDT)
Broadcast: LIVE and exclusive on Kayo #NSWvCCH #HockeyOne
Umpires: Zeke Newman & Stirling Sharpe (Men’s), Kristy Robertson & Cassidy Gallagher (Women’s)
NSW Pride Men’s team: 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 6.Matthew Dawson, 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathaniel Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 25.Jack Hayes (c), 26.Ehren Hazell, 28.Sam Gray, 33.Sam Mudford
In: 2.Tom Craig, 6.Matthew Dawson, 22.Flynn Ogilvie
Out: 19.Tom Brown, 32.Callum Mackay, 35.Rory Walker
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, 11.Garry Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 15.Hayden Dillon, 16.Oscar Smart, 17.Aidan Dooley, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
NSW Pride Women’s team: 1.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 2.Sarah Johnston, 4.Kendalle Tait, 6.Estelle Hughes, 7.Grace Stewart, 8.Alana Kavanagh, 10.Greta Hayes, 19.Morgan Blamey, 20.Maddi Smith, 21.Alice Arnott, 23.Abigail Wilson, 24.Mariah Williams (c), 30.Makayla Jones, 31.Emma Spinks, 32.Grace Young
In: 7.Grace Stewart
Out: 3.Hannah Kable
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)