By Adam Clifford
Adelaide has hosted another exciting night of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League as NSW Pride come off the bye last week to take both wins in the men’s and women’s double header.
A hat-trick from Hockeyroos star Grace Stewart has seen NSW Pride douse the Adelaide Fire with a 5-2 win in a gripping contest of Sultana Bran Hockey One League action.
Fans arrived through the gates full of anticipation, with a host of world class stars on display and they weren’t disappointed with Adelaide Fire champion Gabi Nance and opposition number Stewart both turning in unbelievable individual performances.
After falling to HC Melbourne in game one, Stewart was delighted to see her side raise their levels despite making four changes to their playing list.
“Coming out here today, we knew it was going to be hard work but very happy to get the win with the girls,” Stewart said after being named Player of the Match.
“We knew coming out here that Adelaide had a couple of skilful and determined players, so we were definitely a bit nervous coming out.”
“But we just wanted to stick to our process, which we did much better than our first game, so we’re happy with that.”
A fabulously worked team goal saw Stewart open the Pride’s account in just the 7th minute, before Fire goalkeeper and USA international Kelsey Bing denied the conversion opportunity.
Momentum continued with the visitors and Makayla Jones doubled the Pride’s advantage by sweeping home her second attempt in the 14th minute, but again Bing saw off the additional scoring chance.
The match situation undertook a monumental shift when Pride midfielder Grace Young was awarded a yellow card for a tackle that took her opponent to ground and Adelaide Fire shifted gear to own that period of the match.
Nance’s brilliance forced three clear cut scoring opportunities, but no sooner had the visitors regained their full complement of players and Stewart returned with a converted field goal to push the scores to 4-0.
NSW Pride had a handful of goals when Abigail Wilson scored from a well-rehearsed penalty corner routine, but a match was lit for the Fire when Jane Claxton scored in a goal mouth scramble.
An exquisite shimmy manoeuvre by the Hockeyroos skipper saw her duly convert her field goal to draw the hosts back to 5-2.
But after chances to Lucy Holland-Smith and Miki Spano were negated by Newman, the Pride ran out deserved winners against a gallant opponent.
Post-game, Stewart admitted that they would learn plenty from the experience, particularly after three players were sent to the sin bin.
“The cards definitely don’t help, but we’ve also got a couple of younger girls coming in and that’s the sort of experience that will come with each week we play,” Stewart said.
“It’s good that we were able to fight it out and hold them out, so a lot of good things to come from tonight.”
The winners will face a big test of their title credentials at home to the Perth Thundersticks on Friday night from 6:30pm, while the Fire next head to the nation’s capital for a must win contest on Thursday October 27.
Adelaide Fire 2 (Claxton 40’/40’)
NSW Pride 5 (Stewart 7’/26’/26’, Jones 14’, Wilson 33’)
Friday 14 October 2022
MATE Stadium (SA)
Umpires: Michelle Farnill & Rhiannon Murrie
Adelaide Fire Women’s team: 1.Linzi Appleyard, 4.Chloe Carter, 5.Kelsey Bing (gk), 8.Holly Evans-Gill, 9.Lucy Holland-Smith, 10.Carly Hoffmann, 11.Lucy Sharman, 13.Sarah Harrison (c), 15.Jane Claxton, 17.Siennah Cowles, 19.Gabi Nance, 20.Hattie Shand, 21.Miki Spano, 23.Izzy Gill, 30.Julia King
NSW Pride Women’s team: 2.Sarah Johnston, 6.Estelle Hughes, 7.Grace Stewart, 8.Alana Kavanagh, 9.Zoe Newman (gk), 10.Greta Hayes, 11.Emma Scriven, 18.Julia Bradley, 19.Morgan Blamey, 20.Maddi Smith (c), 23.Abigail Wilson, 24.Mariah Williams, 30.Makayla Jones, 31.Emma Spinks, 32.Grace Young
Adelaide Fire excitement machine Jack Holland almost stole the show with two second half goals that had to be seen to be believed in a thrilling Sultana Bran Hockey One League men’s clash against the NSW Pride.
The underdog Fire ultimately fell agonisingly short of a historic upset win against the defending champions, falling 4-3 at MATE Stadium in a result that epitomised the phrase ‘an honourable loss’.
After seeing off a determined Fire defensive group that had kept the scores goalless after 25 minutes, doubles from Ehren Hazell and Ky Willott had threatened to see NSW Pride run away with the result.
But in front of a vocal home crowd, the Fire stormed back from 4-0 down in the shadows of three-quarter time, off the back of Holland’s electrifying influence.
In the 43rd minute, Holland burst into the top of the circle and shaped to score on his tomahawk, only to be brought down mid-shot by a desperate Pride player.
Fire skipper Glyn Tamlin converted the ensuing penalty stroke with aplomb before Holland struck truly into the roof of the net on his reverse to half the deficit.
The NSW Pride three quarter time huddle prioritised possession to snuff out the Fire’s comeback, but they could do nothing as barely 35 seconds into the final term Holland brought the Fire fans to their feet.
The blonde Burras star picked the pocket of the Pride’s deepest defender before riffling an unstoppable strike into the top right-hand corner to make it 4-3.
The consequential conversion opportunity saw debutant Pride goalkeeper Robbie MacLennan take advantage as Holland slipped and failed to regather himself.
With the result in the balance, the opposing sides traded late field and penalty corner scoring opportunities, with the Fire’s Angus Fry seeing a late tomahawk strike saved by an under-siege MacLennan at the death.
A relieved NSW Pride forward Willott was awarded the Player of the Match award for his brace and recognised the incredible atmosphere in that hotted up final quarter.
“That was a very close one and a bit of a shaky game for us,” Willott admitted post-match.
“I guess we got there in the end, but the crowd was unreal. They brought the fire, and it was a great game to play in and I guess it would have been good to watch as well.”
The pre-game hype had centred around the return of Kookaburras forward Lachie Sharp from a long-term concussion injury, but sadly for the star he succumbed to a hamstring injury.
“It was obviously disappointing losing him so early in the match as well and he had worked so hard to get back,” Willott added.
“It’s a bit unfortunate but he’ll be back even stronger next year, which is good.”
The Pride will be seeking to sharpen up several areas ahead of their contest with the high-flying Perth Thundersticks on Friday night from 6:30pm, while the Fire’s impressive showing will make the Canberra Chill sit up and take notice ahead of their contest on Thursday October 27.
Adelaide Fire 3 (Tamlin 42’, Holland 42’/46’)
NSW Pride 4 (Ehren 28’/36’, Willot 32’/32’)
Friday 14 October 2022
MATE Stadium (SA)
Umpires: James Unkles & Timothy Sheahan
Adelaide Fire Men’s team: 1.Tom Cleghorn, 2.Connor Richmond-Spouse, 5.Jack Holland, 6.Angus Fry, 7.Geoff Abbott, 8.Brodie Gleeson, 9.Fred Gray, 12.Mitchell Dell, 15.William Abbott, 18.Alastair Oliver, 19.Glyn Tamlin (c), 20.Matthew Magann, 21.Michael Doan, 22.Christian Starkie (gk), 23.Cameron White
NSW Pride Men’s team: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 16.Robbie MacLennan (gk), 19.Tom Brown, 20.Ky Willott, 23.Ryan Proctor, 25.Jack Hayes (c), 26.Ehren Hazell, 28.Sam Gray, 32.Callum Mackay, 35.Rory Walker