Fire burn Tigers with third-quarter thrust

The Adelaide Fire made it two wins from two matches with a comfortable 4-0 win away from home against the Tassie Tigers in Hobart, sending them temporarily top of the Sultana Bran Hockey One women’s ladder.

Round 2 of the new national league marked the first look at the Tassie Tigers franchise, who had a bye during round 1, and a healthy crowd at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre saw their new-look women’s side match it early against an impressive Fire outfit who knocked off NSW Pride in the opening round.

The Tigers were playing in memory of 18 year old Livina Sproule, who passed away late in the week. The young hockey player from a famous hockey family was a team-mate and friend to many in the Tigers line-up, and it was under those difficult circumstances Tassie came out hard in the opening minutes, creating several early attacking opportunities and earning the opening penalty corner of the match.

The teams shared moments of attack back and forth in a reasonably even first quarter. Caashia Karringten had the best of the attacking opportunities for the Tigers and almost set up Katerina Lacina on the spot with a brilliant cross in the 9th minute.

Tassie looked to step up their pressure early in the second quarter and again came close to the opening goal of the match in the 17th minute. Senior midfield trio Emily Donovan, Sarah McCambridge, and Hannah Richardson, all playing together for the first time since 2015, combined in a fluid attacking movement that started out of left half to create a shot for Richardson from the top of the circle. Her shot was half-blocked by the Fire defence and resulted in an easy save for goalkeeper Ash Wells.

The Fire went straight up the other end in the following play and created a brilliant opportunity on the spot, a deflected cross from Gabi Nance sitting nicely for Gemma McCaw to volley a shot on goal from mid-air. Only a lightning-fast right-glove save from goalkeeper Holly Bonde kept McCaw out of the net.

Bonde again came to the Tigers rescue in the 27th minute, saving low to her right from a Karri McMahon PC variation shot to send the sides into half-time locked at nil-all.

The half-time chat from Fire coach Melody Cooper had an immediate effect as Adelaide came out and were on the scoresheet within 90 seconds of the restart. A PC to the Fire gave an opportunity for McMahon, but her low and direct flick was again saved by Bonde. The rebound, however, went perfectly onto Miki Spano’s reverse, and she had no trouble putting away her shot from close range into an empty net to give Adelaide a 1-0 lead.

Just two minutes later the Fire doubled their score. Some brilliant interplay between Leah Welstead and Holly Evans through left-midfield created a dangerous circle entry, with the bouncing ball falling perfectly for Nance to finish on her reverse beyond the advancing Bonde. The Tigers ‘keeper got some form of revenge, though, saving Nance’s attempt at the extra conversion with a diving save to her right.

Tigers Captain Amelia Spence and McCambridge both created some attacking chances but the Adelaide defence, led by Jane Claxton, were able to hold them up every time. The Fire then crushed the remaining resistance with a third goal in the 42nd minute. Euleena MacLachlan sent an overhead out of left-back and Nance stole the drop from Nicole Geeves before setting off on an attack down the left wing, feeding McCaw who made a precise pass to the spot where Emma de Broughe finished with an upright strike into the bottom-left corner of the goals.

De Broughe sent her conversion attempt wide to give the Tigers a mini-reprieve on the scoreboard again, but the 0-3 deficit at three-quarter time siren had the home side needing something extra special in the final quarter to fight back.

Tassie went into attack mode almost immediately in the final 15. Within 30 seconds Donovan found Esmee Broekhuizen in the circle, with a spillage falling to Lacina who fired away a quick shot that was saved by Wells in the Fire net but rebounded into an Adelaide defender to give the Tigers their first PC of the match.

A variation on the PC to create a field goal opportunity that, if scored would have allowed for the Tigers to attempt a conversion and close the gap to one goal, failed when Broekhuizen’s entry landed on McCambridge’s foot.

Adelaide then sealed the points with 4 minutes left on the clock when Spano collected her second goal of the match, scrambling in a PC rebound on the post to complete a 4-0 win for the Fire and another win on the road.

They now sit on top of the ladder and go into their first match at home next week against the winless Brisbane Blaze full of confidence, while the Tigers will look to regroup ahead of a tough road trip to Sydney to play NSW Pride who will be looking to bounce back after losing their opening two matches of the competition.

Women’s Match Details:

Tassie Tigers 0

Adelaide Fire 4 (Spano 32’/56’, Nance 34’, de Broughe 43’)

Saturday 5 October 2019
Tasmanian Hockey Centre, Hobart (TAS)