Rogers offers praise after Hancocks in defeat, title draw
RESPECTED Ipswich administrator and umpire Murray Rogers last coached the Hancocks A-grade women's team about five years ago.
However, he was willing to help out for three matches with regular mentor Brendan Eleison in Adelaide watching his daughter Layla play for the Queensland Schoolgirls under-16 side.
Layla and Hancocks A-grade teammate Miranda McNamara are involved in the national tournament as a player and umpire respectively.
With Brendan on parental duty, Rogers returned to coaching for a big doubleheader weekend at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
After Hancocks were surprised 2-0 by Bellbowrie on Saturday, the Ipswich competition leaders showed their fighting ability on Sunday. Hancocks drew 1-1 with Newtown in the hotly-contested Combined Competition final.
Hancocks and Newtown will share this year's title as best women's teams in the annual intercity series.
"We hung on by the skin of our teeth," the stand-in coach said.
"We were under a lot of defensive pressure for probably more than 80 percent of the game.
"They are a quality team Newtown, with a large number of state and international rep players and our girls defended extremely well under extreme pressure."
That pressure grew until Newtown scored with about 10 minutes to go.
However, Hancocks found an equaliser when ever-reliable Caitlin Sippel seized on a corner in the last two minutes.
The Hancocks' recovery was led by captain Sara Rogers, Sippel and Justine Parkes at the back.
The fill-in Hancocks coach was also impressed with Kelly McNamara and Natalie Davison.
While happy with his team's fightback, Rogers praised Bellbowrie for their effort in Saturday's club match.
"Bellbowrie are on the cusp of making semi-finals. They certainly lifted and the better team won on the day without a doubt," Rogers said.
"They had a lot to play for and played with a lot more intensity than we did."
Rogers was impressed by the enthusiasm the Strikers displayed under coach Rodger Grulke.
"They thoroughly deserved to win," he said.
Rogers said Hancocks could expect more fierce challenges in coming weeks.
"The other teams in the competition are now starting to lift and have their run towards finals," the A-grade umpire said.
"The testing material for our girls will be as to whether they can lift with them, because they are certainly going to have to."
In other A-grade games, Swifts overpowered Wests 7-1 and Norths kept their finals hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over Thistles.
In the men's A-grade competition, Hancock Brothers produced a handy 4-1 win over Wests and Easts held out Norths 3-1 in a match where both teams were missing key players.