It was a day of mixed fortunes for the NSW Pride as the Sultana Bran Hockey One League kicked off at Sydney Olympic Park. On a magnificent spring day in front of over 1200 passionate hockey fans, the Adelaide Fire and NSW Pride each posted an early win on the standing board.
The women got the first game of the day under, with NSW Pride head coach Katrina Powell fielding a team full of both youth and experience. Alice Arnott (Tamworth), Emma Spinks and Renae Robinson all made their senior representative debuts for NSW, while veteran Hockeyroos Kate Jenner and Casey Sablowski brought experience and confidence to the team.
They met with an Adelaide team who came ready to play and were filled with in-form players, such as current Hockeyroo stars Jane Claxton, Karri McMahon and Miki Spano.
A strong defensive effort and plenty of high-pressure play from both teams in the first quarter, saw them head into the break nil-all.
That score line continued until half-time despite NSW coming out firing early in the second quarter. Courtney Schonell had the best chance of the game just a minute after the break with a one-on-one opportunity at the top of circle, which was expertly dealt with by Fire goalkeeper Hammond.
The game opened in the third quarter, with Karri McMahon slotting the Adelaide Fire’s first goal of the tournament from a penalty corner in the third minute of the second half.
Alice Arnott hit back for the Pride just seconds later, after a great build up of play from her team-mates allowed her to slot a goal into the top right-hand corner of the net. She had a chance to put the NSW Pride in the lead with a goal conversion attempt but was denied by a good defensive effort from Hammond.
After a scramble in the circle and two incredible saves from NSW keeper Jocelyn Bartram, it was third time lucky for Miki Spano who put the Fire into the lead late in the third quarter.
Despite some desperate attacks from the Pride in the final quarter, the Fire defence held strong and managed to keep the final score-line to 1-2.
In the second game of the day, a NSW Pride team packed-full of current Kookaburras took on a relatively young and inexperienced Adelaide Fire team. Featuring for the Fire were Japanese international representatives Zendana Hirotaka and Watenabe Kota, and South African Ross Hetem.
Despite a few nervous minutes for the Fire at the start of the first quarter, both teams settled into the game and played out a relatively uneventful first half before heading into the sheds 0-0 at the break.
A yellow card to the Fire’s Liam Alexander in the middle of the third-quarter opened the game up for the NSW Pride. Just minutes after, Ehern Hazell opened the scoring for the NSW Pride, with a deflection off a Matt Dawson penalty corner shot attempt.
In the dying seconds of the third quarter, Blake Govers doubled the Pride’s score with a slick drag-flick off a short-corner.
Lachlan Busiko nabbed a goal back for the Fire in the opening minutes of the final quarter with a fantastic penalty corner play. Jack Hayes almost put the result beyond doubt when he stepped up to take a penalty stroke late in the game but hit the post in his attempt.
The NSW Pride eventually wrapped-up the game 2-1 and registered their first points of the tournament.
Adelaide Fire will now fly to Tasmania on take on the Tigers in the opening game of their season next week, while the NSW Pride will head south to Canberra for their first away game against the Chill.
Women’s Match Details
NSW Pride – 1 (Alice Arnott 35’)
Adelaide Fire – 2 (‘Karri McMahon 36’ Miki Spano 41’)
Men’s Match Details
NSW Pride – 2 (Ehern Hazell 42’ Blake Govers 45’)
Adelaide Fire – 1 (Lachlan Busiko 47’)