By Adam Clifford
The Perth Thundersticks’ Women’s and Men’s teams have seen off spirited Adelaide Fire outfits to secure first up home wins in Season 2.
The Perth Thundersticks secured a clinical 3-1 home victory against a gallant Adelaide Fire to open their Sultana Bran Hockey One League campaign.
It was a professional display from the hosts, who managed the final stages of the match expertly to see of a late push from Adelaide Fire.
South African recruit Line Malan was delighted to see her side bank points in game one, particularly after a stern examination by the Fire midfield in the first quarter.
“We started a bit rusty but got there in the end and it was a good win. It’s such an honour to play with WA. It’s always good to get out with the girls and play in this team,” Malan said.
While Perth wrestled momentum back after quarter time, Malan’s unstoppable reverse stick strike from the circle’s edge and subsequent conversion proved to be the match winner.
Asked if her sensational debut goal in the competition was a contender for goal of the season, a typically modest Malan was simply pleased to get on the scoreboard.
“Definitely, I just put my head down and hit it really, so it came off pretty good.”
The visitors came to play with stars Gabi Nance, Hattie Shand and Jane Claxton prolific in the early exchanges, but Adelaide failed to capitalise on several midfield steals and two early penalty corner opportunities.
Against the run of play, Perth took the lead through Karri Somerville, who let rip with a venomous flick that tattooed the bottom right-hand corner after 21 minutes.
Implored to outlet with greater purpose to attack with width instantly paid dividends, with the Thundersticks repeatedly releasing Shanea Tonkin and Georgia Wilson in wide spaces.
And so it would fall on the shoulders of Malan to break this arm wrestle apart for Perth.
The South African’s powerful, angled run from outside the attacking twenty-five-yard line to the head of the circle was merely the appetiser to a thunderous tomahawk strike.
Malan waltzed up and completed her conversion on the second attempt, after being well shadowed by USA international goalkeeper Kelsey Bing for Adelaide.
Bing was called upon to make three big saves in the ensuing moments, before Adelaide struck back through Linzi Appleyard’s reply in the 44th minute, assisted by Nance.
A conversion re-take would ultimately be well saved by Perth goalie Aleisha Power before the home side reduced the Fire’s attacking threat to a mere flicker.
Perth midfielder Annie Gibbs was awarded the Player of the Match for her composed performance in the engine room.
The Thundersticks will next face HC Melbourne on Friday October 7 from 6:30pm AEDT, while the Fire will play host to the Tassie Tigers the following night from 7pm ACDT.
Perth Thundersticks 3 (Somerville 21’, Malan 34’/34’)
Adelaide Fire 1 (Appleyard 44’)
Saturday 1 October 2022
Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University
Perth Thundersticks Women’s team: 1.Kate Denning, 2.Kyra White (c), 3.Candyce Peacock, 5.Georgina Dowd, 6.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
Adelaide Fire Women’s team: 1.Linzi Appleyard, 4.Chloe Carter, 5.Kelsey Bing (gk), 8.Holly Evans-Gill (c), 9.Lucy Holland-Smith, 10.Carly Hoffmann, 11.Lucy Sharman, 15.Jane Claxton, 17.Siennah Cowles, 18.Erin Cameron, 19.Gabi Nance, 20.Hattie Shand, 21.Miki Spano, 23.Izzy Gill, 30.Julia King
A hat-trick from Kookaburras co-captain Aran Zalewski has seen the Perth Thundersticks complete a clean sweep against the Adelaide Fire, with the men claiming an important 5-2 win in their Sultana Bran Hockey One League opener in the west.
The home side were made to work hard for the points, faced with a resolute Adelaide Fire backline led by WA-based goalkeeper Christian Starkie.
With the match still goalless approaching three quarter time, up stepped Zalewski and his Kookaburras teammate Tom Wickham as the game finished with a flurry of seven goals in the final 16 minutes.
“It was a bit of a grind. It was always going to be as Adelaide Fire play a tough brand,” Zalewski said.
“When you get thirteen short corners and only put a couple away, with these rules it was putting us under a bit of pressure, particularly when they got their conversion and we didn’t.”
“But we were happy to get that fourth quarter under our belt and put our chances away when we needed to.”
Zalewski’s second goal came with the scores locked 2-2 inside the final seven minutes and he teed up his receive before lashing a venomous strike into the top bins.
“I think I can credit the goal to (Kookaburras teammate and NSW Pride star) Blake Govers. He told me I needed to re-do my grip, he did it for me and I’ve started hitting them a bit sweeter and that one came out of the screws, so I was pretty stoked with that.”
The Adelaide penalty corner defence was courageous under a sea of pressure throughout the match, with Sharkie impressive with his gloves and skipper Glyn Tamlin twice staring down Campbell Geddes efforts on the post.
Jake Harvie thought he’d found an opener from the Thundersticks’ eighth set piece, but his ferocious strike cannoned off the crossbar.
It would be lucky number ten from the set piece, with Geddes expertly feeding Zalewski to touch home as the third quarter ended.
But the visitors were not perturbed, with Angus Fry deflecting home from their first attempt on goal and duly putting the Adelaide Fire 2-1 up with a classy reverse stick conversion.
As Thundersticks fans contemplated reporting a burglary at the Perth Hockey Stadium, Geddes found his radar to slam home a penalty corner flick to level the scores.
It was the breaking of the dam wall, as moments later Wickham hit the backboard with a short grip strike in traffic and despite firing his conversion wide the Thundersticks held a 3-2 lead.
An exciting end to the match would see either side trade set piece opportunities within a minute, before Zalewski iced the match with a goal of the season contending strike and converted to complete the score line.
The Fire will next host fellow beaten Round 1 side the Tassie Tigers on Saturday October 8, while the Thundersticks travel to HC Melbourne in a match that will be a big indication of their respective title aspirations.
Perth Thundersticks 5 (Zalewski 45’/58’/58’, Geddes 51’, Wikckham 53’)
Adelaide Fire 2 (Fry 46’/46’)
Saturday 1 October 2022
Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University
Perth Thundersticks Men’s team: 1.Chris Bausor, 2.Will Battistessa, 3.Tim Geers, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Bryn de Bes, 6.James Collins, 7.Tyler Lovell (gk), 8.Brodee Foster, 10.Tom Wickham, 11.Tom Harvie, 12.Alistair Murray, 13.Campbell Geddes, 16.Harry Golding, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 24.Matt Willis
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, 11.Cameron Joyce, 15.William Abbott, 18 Alastair Oliver, 19.Glyn Tamlin (c), 20.Matthew Magann, 21.Michael Doan, 22.Christian Starkie (gk), 23.Cameron White