Dedication has Tigers primed
IF commitment reflects a team's grand final prospects, Easts have plenty of motivation to draw upon in their next showdown with Norths.
Ipswich's leading A-grade men's clubs square off in what shapes as another epic clash at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday night.
Norths have been the form team in recent weeks, having their best players back.
However, Easts have relied on loyalty and courage to earn a second shot at the red-hot Devils this weekend.
Regular A-grader David Llewelyn and Easts speedster Tim Woodford are two examples.
Llewelyn drove back from Chinchilla on Sunday to help the Tigers beat Hancock Brothers 5-3 in the preliminary final that afternoon.
Llewelyn has been making the long trips throughout the season from out west where he works as an operator/supervisor on the gas pipelines.
But while Llewelyn made an important contribution, so did Woodford. The key striker has been struggling with a right hand tendon injury suffered during a pre-finals clash with Hancocks.
The PE teacher had his wrist strapped by Llewelyn's brother Mark and wore a protective guard just so he could play on Sunday.
"I battled through it," said Woodford, who scored two goals, including Easts' first in the do-or-die match.
"There was still a fair bit of pain but it gets me through the game.
"There's not as much power trying to hit shots and stuff but dribbling is fine."
Woodford plans to strap up his wrist again to play in Saturday night's grand final.
After that, he'll look at options like extended rest for the tendon damage.
His focus this weekend is on helping Easts successfully defend the title they won 5-4 against Norths in last year's thrilling tussle.
Woodford was heartened by the Tigers' latest win over Hancocks, set up by two early goals.
Mantell brothers Chris and Daniel also scored in a game where Steve Bayliss returned to top form after recent representative duties.
"It was a really good display," Woodford said.
"It proves that when it comes to finals, we can really step up and get the job done.
"This was probably the first actual game where we really combined as a team because we've had so many people out."
Norths and Easts were the two best sides all season.
Ipswich Hockey senior grand finals this weekend:
- 7pm: A2 men - Norths White v Norths Red.
- 8.30pm: A2 women - Thistles v Swifts.
- 11am: R2 women - Swifts v Bellbowrie.
- 12.45pm: Reserve grade women - Swifts v Hancock Brothers.
- 2.30pm: Reserve grade men - Norths v Easts.
- 4.15pm: A grade women - Swifts v Hancock Brothers.
- 6pm: A grade men - Norths v Easts.
Matches are at the Ipswich Hockey Complex at Raceview.