Perth Thundersticks women’s journey to Canberra

Our Perth Thundersticks women’s team are off to the JDH Hockey One Finals Main Event in Canberra this weekend, here’s a look at how they have measured up throughout the season and what lies ahead.


After claiming the Hockey One bronze medal in the 2022 season, the Perth Thundersticks returned in 2023 looking to chase glory.

Along with the return of many familiar faces in head coach Phil Hulbert and 15 members of the 2022 squad, the Perth Thundersticks built on their list depth by bringing in plenty of WA hockey’s rising stars, as well as recruits from over east.

Led by captain Rachel Frusher, the Perth Thundersticks made their presence known from the get-go, opening their 2023 campaign with a 4-1 victory over Canberra Chill on home turf.

The Round One match-up saw plenty of fierce defence and relentless attacking, with Pippa Morgan running out for the Thundersticks for the first time since the inaugural 2019 season, Lexie Pickering & Jesse Reid putting on strong performances in their Thundersticks debut since moving over from NSW Pride & Brisbane Blaze respectively, and young gun Bellé Ramshaw making a splash with a penalty corner goal in her Hockey One debut.

Neasa Flynn was the first to open up the Thundersticks’ account for the 2023 season, ducking and weaving through traffic to score a field goal in the early stages of the second quarter, quickly following it up with a conversion.

Although the Chill put the pressure on, Georgina Dowd sealed the deal with a late goal. Reid was later named the JDH Player of the Match for her midfield efforts.


After having a bye in Round 2, the Thundersticks looked to continue building momentum in their first interstate trip of the season, going up against the Tassie Tigers at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre.

While ongoing recovery efforts from an ankle injury saw goalkeeper Aleisha Power ruled out for the season, it brought forth an opportunity for youngster Lou-Ellen Edwards to step up and back up Lizzy Duguid.

The match against Tassie saw the return of Penny Squibb and Britney Desilva, who made a big impression in the eventual 4-1 victory by slotting in a field goal and successful conversion during the match’s sixth minute.

Dowd would soon follow up Desilva’s efforts with a penalty corner goal to put the Thundersticks at three goals by quarter time.

Despite finding themselves holding off a determined Tassie Tigers outfit through the middle of the game, the Thundersticks bounced back in the final term with Liné Malan shutting the door on the Tigers with a penalty corner goal.

Captain Rachel Frusher’s strong leadership and defensive efforts saw her named the JDH Player of the Match.


With two outright victories under their belt, the Thundersticks quickly emerged as a strong contender for the JDH Hockey One Finals Main Event. But they found themselves facing a strong adversary in a top-of-the-table clash with Hockey Club Melbourne at Perth Hockey Stadium.

The depth of the women’s squad was on full display with the return of Karri Somerville and Lexie Pickering as coach Hulbert trialed different playing combinations.

With HC Melbourne also undefeated at the time, the contest lived up to the hype of a top-of-the-table clash, with neither side letting up in a fierce contest.

It wasn’t until the last minute before the half-time break that the deadlock would be broken, with Penny Squibb slotting in a penalty corner goal to put the home side in front.

With plenty of impressive efforts from both sides, neither team would score during the second half, enabling the Thundersticks to hold on and maintain their undefeated streak.

An outstanding midfield performance in the face of strong pressure by HC Melbourne saw Georgia Wilson named the JDH Player of the Match.


Sitting atop the Women’s Ladder with a three-game undefeated streak, the Thundersticks looked to continue riding high towards the finals when they travelled to South Australia to go head to head with the Adelaide Fire.

The match saw rising star Elyssa Melville make her Hockey One debut, adding to her ever-growing list of achievements which included winning the Rechelle Hawkes Youth Player of the Year in her first year of Premier League Division 1 hockey with Whitford Hockey Club.

It didn’t take long for Melville to make her mark, surprising herself with a goal during the Thundersticks’ emphatic 4-0 victory over Adelaide Fire and impressing officials to earn the JDH Player of the Match for her fantastic on-field efforts.

From the push-out, the Thundersticks were in fine form, relentlessly shutting down the Fire and quickly building up a lead with goals via Liné Malan.

While the Fire ramped up the pressure during the second quarter, goals via Lexie Pickering and Melville during the third quarter and strong defence extinguished the Fire’s chances of a comeback.


Sitting atop the Women’s ladder with a 4-0 record meant the Thundersticks had become the very first JDH Hockey One team to punch their ticket to Canberra,

However, the job was not yet done with two matches left in the regular season, including their final home match of the season against NSW Pride.

In what was set to be an exciting contest, the Round 6 match-up was the first of the Thundersticks tough challenges to end the regular season.

With the return of Neasa Flynn after a bout of illness, the Thundersticks were raring to bring the heat to the visitors but they quickly found themselves caught unawares when Mariah Williams broke through to score the match’s first goal in just 21 seconds.

Despite Elizabeth Duguid preventing a subsequent conversion, the Thundersticks were left chasing the Pride for the remainder of the match.

Although the Thundersticks fought their way back into the contest early in the second half with a goal via Liné Malan, it was not enough to keep their undefeated streak alive as they went down 1-3.


Looking to bounce back from falling short against NSW Pride and maintain top spot on the ladder before the finals, the Thundersticks faced one more tough challenge in Brisbane Blaze at the Queensland State Hockey Centre.

In the midst of soreness, injuries and testing out the depth of the squad, a number of changes were made to the line-up with young guns Bellé Ramshaw, Georgina Dowd and Britney Desilva making their return, while Penny Squibb stepped up as captain.

Despite firing out the gate in a fast start, opportunities to score were few and far between for the Thundersticks in the midst of strong defence by the Blaze,

While Elizabeth Duguid kept the Thundersticks in the contest by preventing three conversions during the first half, the Thundersticks once again found themselves chasing their opposition.

Despite an impressive penalty corner goal via Penny Squibb and late scoring by Lexie Pickering, it wasn’t enough to topple the Blaze, who took out the outright win 6-3 to claim top spot on the ladder and push the Thundersticks into fourth place.


The Thundersticks will kick off their quest for gold going up against the Blaze for the second week in a row during the First Semi Final.

Head coach Phil Hulbert said the squad will focus on limiting turnovers, stick to a clean playing approach and maintain the strong press they have displayed throughout the season to try and redeem their round seven efforts and book themselves a spot in Sunday’s Grand Final.

Currently sitting on top of the Women’s ladder, the Blaze will certainly provide a tough challenge for the Thundersticks to overcome.

Like the Thundersticks, the Blaze have only lost twice throughout the season – an outright 1-3 loss to NSW Pride and a shootout loss to the Canberra Chill – and have plenty of depth within their squad including Savannah Fitzpatrick, Rosie Malone, Madison Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Kershaw – all of whom have been an imposing presence on the field.

Following the First Semi Final, all eyes will be on the Second Semi Final match-up between NSW Pride and Canberra Chill to determine who the Thundersticks will next face in either the 3rd vs 4th Playoff or the Grand Final on Sunday 26 November.

Defending champions NSW Pride also have four wins to their name, losing only to Canberra Chill and Hockey Club Melbourne during the regular season.

The Pride also have a number of imposing figures within their squad, including leading goalscorer Laura Reid, Alice Arnott, Greta Hayes and Grace Stewart.

Looking to capitalise on the home field advantage, Canberra Chill racked up three outright wins and two shootout victories throughout the regular season and have plenty of strong talent including Kalindi Commerford, Lauren Yee, Kaitlin Cotter and Sarah Hawkshaw.


Semi Final 1: Perth Thundersticks vs Brisbane Blaze

Saturday 25 November 8.00am AWST (11.00am AEDT)

National Hockey Centre, Canberra


Women’s 3rd vs 4th Playoff

Sunday 26 November 8.30am AWST (11.30am AEDT)

National Hockey Centre, Canberra


Women’s Grand Final

Sunday 26 November 12.30pm AWST (3.30pm AEDT)

National Hockey Centre, Canberra

Watch all the JDH Hockey One Finals action LIVE and FREE on 7Plus.