Thundersticks on the charge after defeating HC Melbourne

By Adam Clifford

The Perth Thundersticks women’s and men’s teams have maximum points after two rounds of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League following impressive victories over HC Melbourne in high quality contests.

Women’s Match

The Perth Thundersticks women have harnessed their pre-game emotions to score two final quarter goals and claim a confidence-boosting 2-0 win away to HC Melbourne, sending them clear on top of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League.

The match resembled a game of cat and mouse in the early exchanges with both sides carving out chances without success, with respective goalkeepers Aleisha Power (Thundersticks) and Rachael Lynch (HC Melbourne) kept busy negotiating a combined 13 penalty corners throughout the match.

The best opportunity fell to HC Melbourne forward Ash Utri from one of seven penalty corner opportunity for the home side, but her flick bounced back furiously off the upright.

With scores locked 0-0 at three quarter time, Thundersticks coach Phil Hulbert implored his charges at the final change to utilise the right-hand baseline when entering the attacking circle and his message was heeded with immediate effect.

Hockeyroo Georgia Wilson overcame a dirty afternoon by her lofty standards to drive along the by-line and earn a set piece, before returning seconds later to convert their next penalty corner with an instinctive rebound finish in the 53rd minute.

HC Melbourne immediately travelled the length of the field to earn their opportunity, only to have Amy Lawton’s effort well negotiated by an impenetrable Power in the Thundersticks goal.

Moments later, Line Malan and Shanea Tonkin repeated the recipe scripted by Hulbert along the by-line before Malan completed the move, striking high into the net from an angle first-time.

Speaking about Malan’s heroics for a second consecutive week, Thundersticks captain Kyra White was full of praise for the South African.

“She’s a really classy player. She’s proven the last two games how important she is for our team and that finish, you can’t beat it,” White said post-match.

After falling to HC Melbourne in their last Hockey One League clash, White said the team were pleased to extract revenge.

“It hurt everyone, so it was nice to repay the favour. We’re really happy (to win today). We built nicely into the game and really glad to get the points in the end.”

Wearing black armbands in memory of former Hockeyroo and teammate Ashleigh Nelson’s grandmother, White admitted it had been an emotional preparation and they were pleased to lift their performance levels to match the occasion.

“We were really playing for them (off-field staff) tonight. We spoke about it before that it’s bigger than us. It also meant we had a lot to play for tonight and we are really pleased we could get the win for them.” 

Match Details
HC Melbourne 0
Perth Thundersticks 2 (Wilson 52’, Malan 57’)
Friday 7 October 2022
Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville (VIC)
Umpires: Iris Milham & Nicola Brown 

HC Melbourne Women’s team: 2.Aisling Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 4.Amy Lawton, 5.Krissy Bates, 6.Josie Lawton, 7.Ciara Utri, 8.Hannah Cotter, 9.Carly James, 10.Rosario Villagra, 11.Joanne Peeters, 13.Megan Alakus, 14.Anna Moore, 15.Olivia Downes, 25.Hannah Gravenall (c), 27.Rachael Lynch (gk) 

Perth Thundersticks Women’s team: 2.Kyra White (c), 3.Candyce Peacock, 5.Georgina Dowd, 7.Penny Squibb, 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Sarah Byrnes, 11.Rachel Frusher, 12.Line Malan, 13.Neasa Flynn, 16.Karri Somerville, 17.Annie Gibbs, 18.Renee Rockliff, 19.Aleisha Power (gk), 25.Jolie Sertorio


Men’s Match

The high action, non-stop entertainment of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League was on full display as the Perth Thundersticks emerged victorious in a thirteen-goal thriller in Melbourne on Friday night.

Four goal hauls from opposing Kookaburras stars Tom Wickham (Perth Thundersticks) and Nathan Ephraums (HC Melbourne) provided the foundation between another epic clash between the two rivals.

The latter’s first goal had to be seen to be believed, with Ephraums darting inside the circle before unleashing an incredible strike from near the baseline to beat Kookaburras teammate Ben Rennie.

Ultimately it would be the visitors’ penalty corner prowess that was the difference between the two sides, with Liam Flynn and Cambell Geddes both scoring twice.

After failing to score in their first eleven penalty corner opportunities in game one, the Thundersticks clearly made the necessary tweaks, running at eighty percent conversion from their five set pieces.

There was also time for Cooper Burns to excite the home crowd with blistering stickwork and a powerful penalty corner goal of his own.

After a scoreless opening quarter played at breakneck speed, the fireworks erupted with a seven goal second term that left Perth leading 5-2.

The deficit could have been more imposing, but umpires ruled out a deft deflection goal from a diving Flynn as the half-time siren sounded, although replays indicated the rising star had legitimate claims.

The second half continued in unrelenting fashion, but no sooner could HC Melbourne muster a reply as Perth found a quick response.

A late double save from Rennie and a missed deflection from Ephraums would spare the Thundersticks a tense final stanza.

Speaking after the match, Player of the Match Jake Harvie admitted it was an exciting match to be a part of.

“It was a really great game, played at a good speed. I think that’s the good thing about Hockey One because the game was never over and it was a high scoring match, and hopefully it was good for everyone to watch,” Harvie reflected.

“It was a really good effort from both teams. In particular, I think both teams have improved (on their respective game one performances).”

“Sometimes sides come together a bit late with this format and I think the team that’s going to take it out is going to be the one that improves most throughout the tournament.”

Perth’s unbeaten start to their Hockey One League campaign will be tested at home against fellow unbeaten Brisbane Blaze next Saturday from 4:30pm local time, while HC Melbourne will head to the nation’s capital seeking their first points against the Canberra Chill on Thursday night from 6:30pm.

Match Details
HC Melbourne 5 (Ephraums 24’/24’/53’/53’, Burns 43’)
Perth Thundersticks 8 (Wickham 19’/19’/28’/28’, Geddes 26’/40’, Flynn 45’/56’)
Friday 7 October 2022
Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville (VIC)
Umpires: Jim Unkles & Ben Hocking

HC Melbourne Men’s team: 1.Craig Marais, 3.Jonathan Bretherton, 4.Liam Henderson, 6.Damon Steffens, 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Lachlan Steinfort, 9.Trent Symss, 11.Cooper Burns, 12.Connar Otterbach, 13.Jayshaan Randhawa, 15.Josh Simmonds (c), 17.Kiran Arunasalam, 18.Johan Durst (gk), 20.Josh Bretherton, 21.Jake Sherren

Perth Thundersticks Men’s team: 1.Chris Bausor, 2.Will Battistessa, 3.Tim Geers, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Bryn de Bes, 6.James Collins, 8.Brodee Foster, 10.Tom Wickham, 11.Tom Harvie, 12.Alistair Murray, 13.Cambell Geddes, 14.Liam Flynn, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 19.Ben Rennie (gk), 24.Matt Willis