VICTORY SALUTE: Former international player Amy Kickbusch (centre) shows her delight after scoring a hat-trick in the Ipswich A Grade hockey grand final.
VICTORY SALUTE: Former international player Amy Kickbusch (centre) shows her delight after scoring a hat-trick in the Ipswich A Grade hockey grand final. Rob Williams

Amazing display: Wests provide show of skill

FORMER Australian player Amy Kickbusch felt the nerves more than she had in a while.

But after playing among one of the most talented and exciting young sides in any Ipswich sport, she quickly relaxed into her work.

By game's end, Kickbusch had scored another hat-trick, helping Wests outclass Hancock Brothers 8-1.

"It's fantastic,'' Kickbusch said.

"I've been really excited all year to be back with the young girls.

"They've been amazing and I think we really stepped up today. That's how we can play.''

Saturday's exceptional performance secured back-to-back premierships for the Wests' women.

Kickbusch was joined on the impressive goal-scoring list by player of the final Jess Wilkinson, co-captains Eden Jackat and Amy Nicholls, and Gabby Nicholls.

"We've had that kind of performance in us all year,'' Kickbusch said.

After playing 51 games for the Australian Hockeyroos and retiring from the Brisbane competition last year, the Ipswich product was delighted to be back winning in her home city.

"I came and watched a few games last year and saw the development of the young girls and kind of got really excited about playing,'' she said.

Kickbusch (nee Korner) received a sense of satisfaction being back where it all started at Wests, reuniting with long-term friend and team co-captain Nicholls (nee Chalk).

She was also delighted to see young Ipswich players - like she was years ago at Wests - showing their potential.

"I think I came back about five or six years ago and we were really struggling and rebuilding,'' Kickbusch said, praising loyal coach Brent Nicholls.

"Brent's done a really great job building the last three years.''

But highlighting how important the game was to her on home turf, Kickbusch revealed the extra pressure she experienced.

"I never really feel that nervous playing in Brisbane,'' she said.

"Because I'm from Ipswich and there's that bit of an expectation and you don't want to let anyone down, I felt really nervous today. But that kind of went out the window in the first 15 (minutes).''

After seeing Wests turn on their show of skill, speed and striking ability, Hancocks coach Mark Eleison was happy to concede they were the standout team this year.

"Nothing against Wests today. They stepped up and they really showed us what they are made of,'' Eleison said. "Even if you took out their older experienced players - the two Amys (Kickbusch and Nicholls) - they are still a real force to be reckoned with.''

However, first-year coach Eleison was proud of seeing Hancocks back in the grand final after missing out the previous year.

Hancocks were the only team this season, in the Ipswich and Combined Competition with Toowoomba, to take points off Wests. Hancocks drew 1-1 with Wests in the mid-season final and beat them in a recent game.

"They (Wests) are a team that can be beaten,'' Eleison said. "We are the team that showed it and we just couldn't replicate that.''

With Hancocks having some quality talent also coming through, Eleison finished with a smile.

"They tell me I'm got to take it on for three years and in three years I should win a final,'' he said.

"All the girls are coming back next year, all coming together and going that step further.''

A Grade women's grand final: Wests 8 (Amy Kickbusch 3, Jess Wilkinson 2, Eden Jackat, Amy Nicholls, Gabby Nicholls) def Hancocks 1 (Aimee McDermott).



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