Grand Final: Rocky’s women in hockey face off this weekend
HOCKEY: The game Rockhampton's women's hockey league has been waiting for has arrived.
The climax to a tense, tough season, the Rockhampton Hockey Association's A1 women's grand final will be played at Kalka Shades on Saturday, with the undeniable front-runners of the competition battling it out.
Wanderers and Southern Suburbs will go head to head in what's sure to be the season's closest game yet.
Souths coach Lisa Morgan said the full-15 team stripped things back to basics and focused on ending their season on a high.
"They've been playing well all season so I'm confident about Saturday," Morgan said.
"The girls have a really good feeling but it's always different in the grand final when you're in a position to win.
"The pressure comes in and everyone remembers your last game. If you don't play well, it makes the season disappointing."
Morgan said the team would be keeping an eye on their opposition's attacking and mid-fielders, as well as striker Cassidy Kanuth.
"We will look to counteract Wanderers by playing our style and we did that well in the major semis," she said.
"We'll play quick around the paddock, concentrating on getting our defences set up right and then our attack will flow."
Souths have delivered in the last few years, making the finals seven years in a row and winning for the past three.
"I think we've been fortunate to have a fairly consistent side," Morgan said.
"The players we've picked up along the way have added to the team."
With a few younger players like striker Alisha Spivey and 16-year-old Brianna Richards coming off the bench making their Rockhampton grand final debut, Morgan said the experience in the club was helping to nurture the young up-and-comers.
The team has come a long way this season, developing their defence and striking, building their confidence as a team and a structure to suit them.
Wanderers manager Steven Evans said his side was taking a relaxed approach and was focused on enjoying the game, win, lose or draw.
"Winning would be a bonus but we're going out there to enjoy it," he said.
"We're pretty much just getting the attitudes right and getting them to play as a team.
"It's about teamwork more than individual players and we've tried to stick to our structure all year. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
"We will stick to what we've got and show up on the day."
Although Souths have beaten Wanderers more often than the Wanderers have beaten them throughout the year, Evans is sure this weekend will be a close game.
Their fitness and determination on the field could be contributing factors to a narrow game.
"We've put in a fair effort through the year in fitness and it's probably made us a stronger side," Evans said.
"Their strength is also their will to try and win a game. They don't give up at all.
"Whether they're down by a couple or up by a couple, they keep grinding away and play the game for the full 70 minutes.
"They won the extended league final last year but girls' hockey is always pretty close so I'm not too confident in one team winning more than the other."
Kanuth is just one notable mention of a "pretty even-based side", with quality players "over the field".
"She is a bit of a star at the moment," Evans said.
"I'm hoping she puts in some goals for us.
"I think the first to score is important as it puts on the pressure and can be a game-changer.
"So I think the first team to score this weekend could easily win the game."