Grudge match to fire up Ipswich
IPSWICH competition champions Easts are anxiously awaiting a possible semi-final grudge match against Labrador after a perfect start to their TigerTurf Cup tournament.
Ipswich's leading club side was unbeaten from its first three games last Sunday in the revamped hockey series at Carina.
Ipswich Easts held out their Brisbane counterparts 5-4 in an entertaining opening game under the nine-a-side rules.
The Ipswich premiers then overcame Pine Rivers St Andrews 4-1 and Bulimba 8-5 on the same day at Carina to top their pool going into this weekend's final games.
Thom Millar, Tim Woodford, Jarrod Brown, Chris Mantell, David Llewelyn, Mark Llewelyn, Daniel Mantell and Chris Melvin all scored goals for Easts.
"I think we took a few of the Brisbane sides by surprise," captain/coach Paul Malcolm said.
"I was really happy how we went. We had an awesome weekend."
Malcolm said the Tigers used their speed to advantage, having more room to move under the modified rules.
"It was a lot faster game than what we are used to," Malcolm said, appreciating some assistance from Ipswich regional coaching director Neil Shearer.
"The game sort of suits the way we play our hockey. With our strikers up front and the midfield, we just tore them apart."
With Easts regulars Steve Bayliss and Brenton Sippel unavailable, Easts were helped by Jarrod Brown from Hancocks and Norths speedster William Dalais.
In this weekend's crossover games, Pool 2 leaders Easts will play Sunshine Coast champions Buderim Rebels, who are winless.
Malcolm said the prospect of playing Gold Coast team Labrador in a semi-final had his team fired up.
A number of Easts players were part of this year's Ipswich representative side that lost a nail-biting state open final to Gold Coast. That denied Ipswich a return to the Premier League.
Players such as former international player Brent Livermore are leading the Labrador side again in the TigerTurf Cup.
"It's a grudge match," Malcolm said of the possible clash this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Ipswich women's side - representing Hancock Brothers - had a disappointing opening weekend.
Hancock Brothers struggled in their two matches, thrashed 7-0 by Brisbane Easts before falling 4-1 to fellow Brisbane team Commercial.
Aimee McDermott scored the lone goal for Hancocks.
Hancock Brothers will take on Toowoomba rivals Rangeville in their quarter final, with the winner to face hosts Easts in the semi-final.
Hancocks player Kimberley Nunn jarred her knee and was unable to continue.
The innovative TigerTurf Cup competition concludes this weekend at the Clem Jones Sports Centre (Stanley Rd, Carina).
STATE OF PLAY
After failing to win a game in last year's TigerTurf Cup competition, Ipswich Easts are unbeaten from their first three games this season. The Ipswich premiers have plenty to play for in this weekend's finals.