Hancocks family ties enhance joy of winning grand finals
HAVING played in multiple A-Grade grand finals, Hancocks all-rounder Sara Rogers can confidently tackle just about any challenge.
She was as calm as ever about a major change to this weekend's Ipswich hockey senior title deciders.
Due to this year's competition restructure, the men's and women's A-Grade finals are being played on consecutive nights - rather than back-to-back in previous seasons.
Preparing to coach the Hancocks men on Saturday night before playing in Sunday afternoon's grand final, Rogers accepted the changed format with her usual no-fuss attitude.
"It doesn't really matter too much,'' she said.
"I really like to celebrate with the boys as well as the women but it's bit hard when I have to back up and play the next day.
"But the world we live in at the moment, things have to be a little bit different.
"We are all just glad to be back playing hockey.''
Rogers praised hockey officials for their efforts implementing a successful COVID plan.
The Hancocks men are preparing for another showdown with defending premiers Norths at the Ipswich Hockey Complex in the 7.15pm encounter.
With no preliminary or qualifying finals due to COVID-19, the arch rivals will square off in one playoff showdown under this season's "Return to Play'' conditions.
"We always have a good battle with Norths,'' Rogers said.
In her third season coaching the men's side, Rogers said her players took plenty out of last year's grand final defeat.
"We've just been building each year on the game I want us to play,'' she said.
"The boys were very disappointed with the result in last year's final.
"Nerves played a bit of a part of it and I think we're actually playing a better team game this year than we have in previous years.''
Hancocks' lead-up to the grand final has been positive, including a recent 10-0 win over Easts.
"Regardless of them being the bottom team, we played structurally very well,'' the coach said.
"The goals we created and set up were very, very clinical so building from that going into the last round, each game has gotten better, that's for sure.''
Among Hancocks top goal scorers have been Jackson Willie.
Rogers was also pleased to see younger players like Ashton Jackwitz and Joe Butta stepping up this season.
"They come to every training and they put in every week,'' she said. "They might not get many minutes on the pitch but they are very much part of the team.''
Sam Morgan has captained this year's side.
While this year's grand final is under different format, Rogers said the focus was still on winning both games.
"No matter what the season is, you always want to be in that grand final and you always want to win that grand final,'' she said.
The Hancocks women have a settled formation facing Thistles. The women's grand final is at 5.30pm on Sunday, following lower division games.
"We've had the same team for pretty much the whole all post-COVID season,'' she said.
While confident in her team's ability, the Hancocks captain is showing Thistles plenty of respect after the club's first year back in A-Grade.
"They are a great team. We enjoyed playing Thistles,'' Rogers said.
"A lot of us have played a lot of those girls in Brisbane so it's always a good, even contest.
"I don't think any of our games have been high-scoring games so I don't expect anything different for the final.''
Hancocks finetuned for the season decider with a polished 3-0 win over arch rivals Wests last weekend.
"It was good to finish off with some goals and not concede goals,'' Rogers said.
"We've had a really good defensive year.''
Rogers praised young goalkeeper Victoria Heffernan for her terrific efforts.
One of the enjoyable aspects of hockey finals each year is the number of family combinations.
Among the siblings playing this year are Douglas brothers Kai (Hancocks) and Blake (Norths).
Armstrong sisters Kayleigh and Bree returned to Hancocks this year.
Eleison siblings Layla and Abby have also been key contributors for Hancocks along with Michel brothers Hayden and Brendan and Reid and Ashton Jackwitz.
Norths have Profke brothers Zac and Riley presenting plenty of attacking threats for Hancocks.
Hancocks have six teams in Saturday's grand finals.
Apart from A-Grade, the club has teams in E-Grade Girls, A2 Men, C Grade Girls and Reserve Grade Men.
Easts are well represented in juniors again with Norths, Thistles, Swifts and Vets also having teams qualify for the main games of the season.
GRAND FINAL SCHEDULE
9am: E Grade Boys - Hancock Brothers v Easts Black
10.30am: E Grade Girls - Easts v Norths
12.15pm: D Grade Boys - Easts v Norths
2pm: D Grade Girls - Swifts v North Western Strikers
3.45pm: A2 Grade Men - Hancock Brothers v Swifts
5.30pm: A2 Grade Women - Thistles v Bellbowrie
7.15pm: A Grade Men - Hancock Brothers v Norths
9am: C Grade Girls - Norths v Hancock Brothers
10.45am: R2 Grade Women - Swifts v Vets
12.15pm: R2 Grade Men - Norths v Easts Black
2pm: Reserve Women - Northern Strikers v Swifts
3.45pm: Reserve Men - Hancock Brothers v Norths
5.30pm: A Grade Women - Hancock Brothers v Thistles