The 2021 Lower South East Hockey Association is in full swing after three entertaining rounds of action at Blue Lake Sports Park. Players returned to the pitch last weekend after a break for Anzac Day and hope to carry some momentum into the fourth round which starts tonight.
Tigers has enjoyed the perfect start to its chase for a fifth-straight Division 1 men’s premiership. The reigning premier sits comfortably at the top of the ladder after collecting three wins from as many games.
The side showed all its might in round 2 against Strikers where an Aaron Mengler hat-trick created a 5-1 win before overcoming Redbacks 9-0 last time out.
Tigers aim to keep the form going in a rematch of the 2020 decider on Saturday afternoon. Behind the ladder leader, a tight tussle is emerging for the minor placings. Initially West also showed strong form after a narrow defeat to the champions in the season opener with a large 6-0 win over Redbacks.
However, West lost its momentum after it was stunned by a storming Strikers side. In a match which gave fans an idea of who could be the team to challenge Tigers for the title, Strikers landed the first blow through Jordan Millhouse after a tight opening term.
When play resumed, Strikers tightened its grip after debutante Harrison Degaris found the back of the box, while Andrew Schubert’s great back stick goal was a major blow just before three-quarter time. Despite the best efforts of Darren Vine and youngster Rhys Earle, West had no answers in the final term and slumped to a 6-0 defeat.
Strikers will search for another win against the winless Redbacks tomorrow night. In the Division 1 women, 2020 premier West returned to winning ways after prevailing in a close contest with Strikers. Surrounded by a great atmosphere under the stars, both teams came out fighting hard.
The Strikers’ defence appeared strong enough for everything West threw its way until Gemma Ballintyne sneaked a shot past the goalkeeper to break the deadlock. During the middle stages both sides enjoyed solid passages of play, but neither could hit the scoreboard.
After a long arm wrestle, players started to feel tired after moving up and down the pitch. Being one goal down, Strikers made one last push for the equaliser, but could not find it and West held on for the 1-0 win.
In the other game Redbacks also had to fight hard to beat Tigers by the same margin. Aside from the Strikers’ winless start, little separates Redbacks, West and Tigers as the fight for the top spot continues on Saturday.