Defending champions send a statement in the west

The NSW Pride have stormed the Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University to claim a pair of 3-1 victories against gallant Perth Thundersticks sides, as the respective men’s and women’s JDH Hockey One League top four continues to take shape.

The NSW Pride Men maintained their unbeaten title defence in defeating a fast-finishing Perth Thundersticks 3-1 to leave the hosts chasing a victory away in the final round against Brisbane Blaze to make the semi-finals.

Then in the women’s match, the Perth Thundersticks tasted defeat for the first time in season 2023, falling 3-1 to the reigning champions NSW Pride. In the process, the NSW Pride Women cemented their spot at the Finals Main Event.

In a high-quality spectacle, the men’s grand final replay from 2022 followed a similar script for the opening 35 minutes, with a moment of brilliance from Player of the Match Tim Brand assisting Flynn Ogilvie to a brilliant deflection goal.

Ogilvie then showed his class from the conversion with a composed reverse stick finish after first sitting Kookaburras keeper Ben Rennie.

The goals broke the deadlock after a tense first half, where Perth forced Pride keeper Ash Thomas into a spectacular double save from their second penalty corner.

Ogilvie’s goals then stepped the tempo up and it wasn’t long before Blake Govers thumped a drag flick against the cross bar.

It proved to be an important sighter for the Kookaburras star, who returned to expertly dispatch a low drag flick in the shadows of three-quarter time.

Forced to respond, the Thundersticks were more progressive in their decision making as demonstrated by Trent Mitton’s crash ball that found an outstretched Tom Wickham to turn in after 57 minutes.

But Ash Thomas crushed the faint hopes of local fans for a comeback with a brilliant save to deny Wickham his conversion opportunity.

With the Pride reduced to ten men for the final ninety seconds, there was time for the Thundersticks to earn a late set piece chance, but Ogilvie twice thwarted the hosts best endeavours to secure a late result.

“It was tight. We seem to be doing that of late, but Tim Brand obviously had a cracker and Ash Thomas has probably been player of the tournament so far I reckon…he’s been unreal,” Pride captain Jack Hayes said post-match.

“Phase one was obviously to make finals and being undefeated isn’t really something we’ve spoken about, but just getting to Canberra (for the JDH Hockey One League finals) was the first thing.”

“We’ll try and get through Adelaide Fire next week with no injuries and then hopefully go to Canberra full strength.”

The result in the women’s match proved to be the perfect send off for the Pride’s plethora of Jillaroos stars and the foundation was set in the opening 25 seconds with the visitors high press getting instant rewards.

After strong stickwork from Alice Arnott in the attacking circle, Mariah Williams sent a close-range effort beyond the outstretched arm of Perth keeper Lizzy Duguid to open the scoring.

Duguid responded with a brilliant stalking job on Williams’ follow-up opportunity, eventually forcing the Hockeyroos star onto a wide line to deny the conversion chance.

As rain descended, Arnott continued to shine with a well struck tomahawk effort the result of the Pride’s aggressive mindset before Perth could muster a response.

It came, with Penny Squibb firing a set piece wide of the mark before Shanea Tonkin drew a reflex save from Jocelyn Bartram from point blank range with a clever touch.

But execution was the name of the game, as on their next foray forward the Pride doubled their lead from their first penalty corner opportunity courtesy of Maddison Smith’s flick after 12 minutes.

The Pride thought they had stretched their advantage to three goals early in the second quarter, but Alana Kavanagh’s penalty corner assist to Arnott was eventually ruled out as the initial injection had not gone outside the attacking circle.

Seconds into the second half, the Thundersticks drew themselves back into the contest, with Tonkin’s forward craft feeding Line Malan to touch home at the far post.

Only the crossbar could deny the hosts from drawing level, with Malan crashing a tomahawk against the woodwork on the conversion attempt.

It would be a miss that Perth would quickly rue, as the Pride went coast to coast with exceptional transition movement before Arnott’s driving run and cross took a fortunate ricochet off the helpless defensive stick of Squibb.

Duguid repeated her earlier conversion heroics to deny Arnott and the Thundersticks went to work to try to eat into the deficit.

But Rachel Frusher’s penalty corner effort would be pulled off the goal line by Kaitlin Nobbs, after spilling behind Bartram, while the keeper returned to deny Neasa Flynn in a critical one on one contest.

There was still time for an outstretched Malan to throw her stick at a crashed circle entry in the dying seconds, but fortune continued to evade the courageous home side as the Pride inflicted Perth’s first loss of the season.

“It was pretty hard fought from the get-go. We knew we had to start well and continue that for the whole sixty minutes, so I think we did that well and I’m proud of our team,” Nobbs said post-match.

“Adelaide Fire (NSW’s opponents in Round 7) never give up so it’s always good to respect the team you’re playing against, and we’ve got some girls going to the Junior World Cup, so that’s going to be a challenge for us.”

“I think today and next week’s clash will be a good stepping stone for finals and it’s good that we can cement our processes leading into Canberra finals.”

Every match of the JDH Hockey One League 2023 Season is LIVE and free on 7plus.

Match report courtesy of Adam Clifford.

Match Details – Men’s Match
Perth Thundersticks 1 (Wickham 57’)
NSW Pride 3 (Ogilvie 35’/35’, Govers 44’)
Sunday 12 November 2023
Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University

Perth Thundersticks Men’s team: 1.Matthew Bird, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Tom Wickham, 6.Bryn De Bes, 9.James Day, 11.Tom Harvie, 13.Brayden King, 14.Matthew Willis, 15.Liam Flynn, 16.Brodee Foster, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 18.Ben Rennie (gk), 20.Frank Main, 25.Trent Mitton, 26.James Collins

NSW Pride Men’s team: 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 13.Blake Govers, 14.Dylan Martin, 19.Jack Hayes (c), 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 28.Sam Gray, 29.Tim Brand, 32.Callum Mackay, 34.Thomas Miotto


Match Details – Women’s Match
Perth Thundersticks 1 (Malan 32’)
NSW Pride 3 (Williams 1’, Smith 12’, Arnott 33’)
Sunday 12 November 2023
Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University

Perth Thundersticks Women’s team: 1.Pippa Morgan, 3.Neasa Flynn, 4.Elyssa Melville, 6.Sarah Byrnes, 7.Penny Squibb, 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Jesse Reid, 11.Rachel Frusher (c), 12.Liné Malan, 13.Lexie Pickering, 14.Elizabeth Duguid (gk), 17.Annie Gibbs, 18.Renee Rockliff, 20.Karri Somerville

NSW Pride Women’s team: 1.Alice Arnott, 3.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 7.Laura Reid, 8.Greta Hayes, 11.Estelle Hughes, 14.Makayla Jones, 15.Hannah Kable, 16.Alana Kavanagh, 20.Kaitlin Nobbs, 24.Maddison Smith (c), 26.Grace Stewart, 27.Kendelle Tait, 30.Mariah Williams, 31.Abby Wilson, 32.Grace Young