Tuesday saw the first of three rounds of the AHL Classification matches played at Sydney Olympic Park. In Pool A, upsets were a plenty. New South Wales Waratahs lost to an in form ACT Lakers 3-5, while the Queensland Blades also stumbled to a fired up South Australian Hotshots 1-2. Pool B saw the status quo restored, with the Victoria Vikings destroy the Tasmania Tigers 9-1 and West Australian Thundersticks account for the Northern Territory Stingers 3-1.
This means that Pool A is wide open and the two powerhouse teams of Queensland and New South Wales are both in great danger of missing the top spot and subsequently a place in Saturdays final. Can ACT or SA go all the way? Full match reports below, along with the remaining fixtures.
On the G-Team front, the Gryphon boys from the Western Australian Thundersticks had a day out with Sam Pike, Craig Boyne and Andrew Jacobs all finding the back of the net while defenders and Olympic legend’s Bevan George, Fergus Kavanagh and Kiel Brown set the tempo and intensity from the back. Lucas Judge and Co’ from ACT were all instrumental in their epic victory along with a strong Gryphon contingent from South Australia lead by veteran Ian Wishart and up and comer Jake Stacey. From Northern territory, Kookaburra Joel Carroll and young AIS player Jeremy Hayward both featured whilst
Game reports via Hockey Australia
Photo: Fergus Kavanagh, in action for the Kookaburras, is leading the way for Western Australia in 2011
NSW Waratahs 3 Canberra Lakers 5 (Half time 1-2)
Goals: Woeter Hermkens 5 min (PC), Woeter Hermkens 17 min (PC), Ian Paterson 30 min (FG), Daniel Borrett 41 min (FG), Ian Davidson 45 min (FG), Glenn Turner 46 min (FG), Matthew Butturini 63 min (FG), Matthew Butturini 64 min (FG)
The match began with both sides moving the ball well, trying to establish early momentum the passes were hard and the movement off the ball was noticeable from both teams. Four minutes in, ACT found a forward unmarked on the penalty spot, the resulting shot was well saved by goalkeeper Daniel McPherson but the ball remained under his body and the Lakers were awarded a penalty corner. The ever dangerous Woeter Hermkens stepped up, drag flicking the ball low to the left to give ACT an early lead.
The intensity was high as the game flowed from end to end, both teams creating opportunities in open play but neither side were clinical enough in front goal. Conscious of the Lakers’ penalty corner threat, the NSW defence continued to break down the play outside of the circle, stepping out and defending a high line.
With 5 minutes remaining in the half, NSW full back Matt Wark was at full stretch, off his feet, attempting to make a tackle. Although outside of the circle, the umpires ruled the mistimed tackle cynical enough to award a penalty corner. Woeter Hermkens made NSW pay, another drag flick this time high and to the right doubling his teams lead.
Determined to get back into the game NSW continued to move the ball quickly, transitioning the ball from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. Deep in defense, Matt Wark delivered a 65 metre overhead pass to forward Josh Miller who ran the ball to the baseline before passing to Adam Imer in the circle, the forward firing a shot low into the right hand corner of the goal. The score at half time ACT 2 NSW 1.
In the opening five minutes of the second half NSW looked in control, basic mistakes costing them at crucial times. Despite having the majority of possession NSW looked susceptible to a counter attack, with numbers committed forward, ACT were able to use the space in behind the Waratahs attacking group.
A five minute period of exceptional fast paced breakaways and clinical finishing saw the Lakers extend their lead by three goals, taking the score to 5-1. Daniel Borrett, Ian Davidson and Glenn Turner, all scored field goals to stun the home crowd. The hope of a NSW revival was short lived despite Matthew Buturini putting on a master class to pull two goals back for his side in the space of 60 seconds.
ACT held on in the last five minutes as the game finished Canberra Lakers 5 NSW Waratahs 3.
OAMPS Queensland Blades 1 def by OAMPS Southern Hotshots 2 (Half time 1-1)
Goals: QLD Brent Garske FG 19m, SA Matthew McGregor FG 32m, SA Brady O’Shea FG 54m
Queensland again searched for form, this time in today’s match against South Australia.
South Australia were the more disciplined team early in the match, with accurate passes and field position giving their forwards plenty of scoring opportunities in front of goal. Queensland keeper Nathan Burgers was peppered with opposition shots and saved brilliantly.
However, throughout the match, Queensland struggled to execute the basics under pressure resulting in numerous turnovers and dropped heads as the team were overrun by SA.
Queensland drew first blood through Brent Garske in the 19th minute but the scores remained unchanged as Queensland were awarded three successive penalty corners with none finding the back of the goals.
The Hotshots then opened their scoring in the 32nd minute with captain Matthew McGregor levelling the scores heading to half-time.
The second half was a torrid affair with both teams lacking finesse and forcing passes to unknown recipients.
The frantic pace continued until Hotshots’ Brady O’Shea knocked a field goal in across the front of goals.
Today’s win by the Hotshots is their first win of the 2011 season. At the bottom of the ladder in the regular season, the Hotshots will take great confidence in today’s win over first placed Queensland.
Victorian Vikings 9 -1 Tassie Tigers (Half time 3-1)
Goals: Tim Wischusen 3 min (FG), Sam McCambridge 6 min (FG), Chris Ciriello 15 min (PC), Justin Ellis 25 min (FG), Russell Ford 47 min (FG), James Webster 54 min (FG), Glen Simpson 57 min (PC), Tim Wischusen 61 min (PC), Russell Ford 65 min (FG), Sam Fraser 67 min (FG).
The Victorian Vikings have come out firing in their opening pool game against the Tassie Tigers.
Tim Wischusen opened the scoring for the Vikings in the 3rd minute of the game before Tasmania equalised three minutes later, a Sam McCambridge field goal levelling the scores. Victoria began to control possession and won a penalty corner, Chris Ciriello scoring a well executed drag flick to give his side the lead.
The Tigers had some effective passages of play, directing balls to their forward line. However Victoria’s defence held firm and continued to use their midfield to build a counter-attack. Justin Ellis scored Victoria’s third goal just before half-time.
In the second half the Vikings sent a message to the rest of the competition, scoring five unanswered goals. Russell Ford scored with a tomahawk after the Tasmania goalkeeper was drawn out of position and James Webster tapped in at the post following a well worked move into the circle
Glenn Simpson and Tim Wischusen both scored from penalty corners followed by run of play goals to Russell Ford and Sam Fraser, rounding out the scoring
Ruthless and unrelenting the Vikings completed a 9-1 annihilation of the Tassie Tigers
WA Thundersticks 3 def Darwin Airport Resort Territory Stingers 1 (Half time 2-0)
Goals: Sam Pike 7 min (FG), Andrew Jacobs 17 min (PC), Craig Boyne 53 min (PC), Jason Gabriel 70 min (FG)
Western Australia controlled the game from the outset, maintaining possession well, passing the ball at speed and executing difficult skills with ease.
The team from the west pressed aggressively and their hard work paid off seven minutes in, the Stingers full back misplacing a pass straight to Western Australia forward Sam Pike who ran into the circle before unleashing a thunderous tomahawk into the goal.
Dominant in all areas the Thundersticks put together several impressive passages of play.
Fantastic individual skills earned Western Australia a penalty corner in the 16th minute. The first shot was saved well but Andrew Jacobs was on hand to knock in the rebound following a melee at the far post. The score at half time Western Australia 2 Northern Territory 0.
After half time Northern Territory came out fighting and earned a penalty corner not long after play had resumed, a powerful shot from Travis Carroll rattling the post. Despite the Stingers best efforts Western Australia looked comfortable in possession, moving the ball around the field crisply and playing the game at their tempo.
In the 53rd minute good stick skills presented Western Australia with a great chance finding Craig Boyne on the far post to tap in for the team’s third goal. Reward for the time spent in possession of the ball.
The game began to peter out as the Thundersticks were content with a three goal lead, the Stingers unable to break down a solid defensive structure.
A never say die attitude from the Stingers meant they continued to push forward in search of a consolation goal. A nice reverse stick trap from Ben Poulton in the circle presented the Stingers with one last chance, Poulton passed to Jason Gabriel who scored with seconds left on the clock. The final score Western Australia 3 Northern Territory 1.
GAMES WEDNESDAY 10TH AUGUST
- 12pm NSW V SA
- 2pm VIC V NT
- 4pm WA V TAS
- 6pm QLD V ACT
GAMES FRIDAY 12TH AUGUST
- 10am TAS V NT
- 12pm ACT V SA
- 2pm QLD V NSW
- 4pm WA V VIC
GAMES SATURDAY 13 AUGUST
- 9am 7th v 8th
- 11am 5th v 6th
- 1pm 3rd v 4th
- 3pm Grand Final – 1st v 2nd