In a major shift for the 2022 Lower South East Hockey Association season the Division 2 competition has been split with two of the stronger teams promoted into the top grade to form a stronger six-team Division 1 competition.
This set the stage for Division 2 Premiers Tigers to face up for first time against their club’s Division 1 side in an interclub rivalry match.
As two of the most physical and dominant forces in both grades, this game was hotly anticipated to be a close and intense match worth watching.
With Lochie Nisbet as a noticeable influence for the Division 2 side after returning from Premier League commitments in Adelaide, he complemented the older, more experienced players defensive strength, meaning goals would not come easily for the fitter and younger Division 1 side.
The Division 2’s had a lot of the position in the first quarter, but when a turnover did finally occur it allowed an opening for a back stick goal from Aaron Mengler, his first of three goals for the match.
An error in the circle shortly after allowed captain Luke Hunter to score the first penalty corner to make it 2-0 at quarter time.
Division 1 scored a second penalty corner, but was backed up by the Division 2 side answering shortly before the end of the second half with Mick Carne converting to place a notch on the score board.
With the 3-1 score line after the first half it was clear the Division 1 Tigers were not getting the share ball possession they had hoped with only one additional goal in the third quarter.
As the warmer conditions and running speed of the Division 1 side was able to wear down the older Division 2 team, fast defence opened up opportunities and some free flowing passes built into two impressive team goals by Conner Grant and Patrick Robinson.
These shots completed a 6-1 drubbing but it was still a win that did not come easy for the Division 1 side.
In the other game the Redbacks and West top teams faced off.
With losses to Tigers and Strikers in the first round, both Redbacks and West were looking for their first win of the season.
The game started as a close arm wrestle in the midfield as both teams adjusted to the tempo of the game in aspiration to score first.
West broke free after good play from Gavin Robertson, overlapping from defence to find the first goal scorer David Vine.
The second quarter was another battle of the midfield, with Dominic Tucker’s pace and skill proving vital for the Redbacks side.
Despite their promising plays coming up the ground, the second quarter finished 2-0 in favour of West with Angus Widdison joining the scorecard through a penalty stroke.
Redbacks continued to build as the game went on with forwards Nash Lobely and Richmond Clayfield getting more of the ball and challenging the West defence.
However West stepped up to the challenge, eventually scoring a further two from a tomahawk by Rhys Earle and a back-stick deflection by Brayden Burston.
In the end West got its season rolling by winning 4-0.
In the women’s Division 1 competition Redbacks and West met in round 2 to replay the 2021 grand final, with both teams keen to claim a win and set the tone for the season.
An undermanned Redbacks side had some positive play early on in the first quarter before West strung together some strong passes.
Angela Broad was once again hard to defend in the circle to give West an early 1-0 lead.
After some tight battles West was able to create more opportunities which resulted in a goal from a strong run from defender Dana Jones.
Redbacks created some chances to score later in the game with their new midfield finding their feet but was unable to put the ball in the back of the net.
West was too strong, scoring a third goal and securing a convincing win.
In the other match it was a tight tussle between Tigers and Strikers who were both searching for their first win of the season.
Strikers scored first thanks to a chaos ball into the circle making an unlucky deflection off a Tigers stick which left the goalie with no chance of saving it.
Tigers fought back hard though with Abbey Hood working overtime to create chances for her side and Ashleigh Doll looked dangerous up forward. The skill of star goalkeeper Kate Fabian was able to prevent the attacks from finding the back of the goals.
They finally levelled the score thanks to a smoked penalty corner by Kaitlyn Nisbet.
Strikers pushed hard but was consistently repelled by the fullback line of Bianca Taylor and Deb Hicks.
Strikers created a golden opportunity to score when a ball sailed across the face of an open goal late in the third quarter which was easily their best chance of the match, but they were unable to convert.
Overall, it was a close and competitive encounter with the one-all draw a fitting result.