Hancocks set to strike
HANCOCKS player/coach Bruce Robertson concedes last year's grand finalists will need to work harder to secure a handy top-two spot for the Ipswich A-grade finals.
However, the master strategist knows his third-placed team can only get better.
After beating Toowoomba opponents Red Lion 4-0 in difficult conditions on Saturday, Robertson was satisfied with Hancocks' progress. Hancocks sit behind defending premiers Easts and major threats Norths.
"We beat Norths last time we played them. Easts are going to be tough this season," Robertson said.
"It's just a matter if we can keep grinding away and learn as we have been. These younger blokes can still get a bit more experience.
"At the end of the season, we know we've just got to put a couple of games together.
"I can't see us making the top two to be honest but we are happy where we are at the moment."
Having lost some weight and feeling better after a knee operation last year, Robertson is still a powerful figure as he marshals Hancocks from the back.
"We don't have any superstars," he said.
"We'll stick to our plan and keep working hard."
Easts share the competition lead (22 points) with Norths after a comprehensive 10-2 victory over Wests.
Easts strikers Steve Bayliss and Danie Mantell scored hat-tricks.
Hancocks are on 13 points with winless Wests on two.
In Saturday's match at Raceview, Hancocks players had to contend with persistent rain and pools of water in the second half.
"It was tough," Robertson said.
"The ball sticks to the turf and you can't play a longer game.
"We had a game against Norths (in similar conditions) earlier in the year and we learnt from that.
"We went shorter and went through the midfield and didn't try to hit long."
All Hancocks' goals were scored in the first half.
Brent Nicholls netted the first and third from field goals, with Conlon Mallett on the spot during penalty corners to finish off the second and fourth.
"Our first half was great," Robertson said.
"In the second half, we created enough opportunities where we should have hit another three."
Hancocks were missing regulars, including Dane Rew and Sam Dobbie. But Robertson was happy to see Kai Douglas and Ryan Smith receiving valuable match time.
"Everyone did the job. We've been working at that (not conceding any goals)," the coach said.
The Norths v Easts A-grade match this weekend has been postponed due to having players involved in the Super League.
Hancocks will play Wests on Sunday.
IN Saturday's Hockey Hits column, Gabby Nicholls was incorrectly named as one of the Wests' leading E-grade goal scorers this season.
Gabby plays for D grade where she's netting plenty of goals, including five in one match.
Gabby's younger sister Jessi plays for Wests E grade.
Left winger Jessi, 8, has also been a regular scorer this season. She scored again on Saturday in Wests' 2-1 win over Collegians.
Look out for junior photos in tomorrow's QT.