Norths survive Magpie scare
NORTHS captain Mark Pocock knows better than anyone how the representative program can disrupt club hockey.
He's recently been away with the Ipswich and South West Queensland teams at state open and Super League championships.
However, the respected Ipswich player took nothing away from the Wests Magpies in their latest A-grade clash where the Devils just held on 4-3.
"We were lucky to get away with a win,'' Pocock said of Saturday night's game.
"They nearly got a goal at the end to draw it.
"They played really well.''
Such has been this year's Ipswich competition that multiple premiership-winner Pocock is wary of all opponents.
"It's gotten stronger again with Hancocks,'' he said.
"A lot of their guys that have probably played in Brisbane over the last couple of years are coming back and playing.
"There's three strong teams with ourselves, Easts and Hancocks (all around the same goal difference).
"Wests are a bit of a darkhorse too. You just don't know what they can produce on their day.
"They have such good young players who can come out and play really play good games and knock you over as well.''
That scenario augurs well for the final round leading into the playoffs after the annual intercity competition concludes with Toowoomba A-grade sides.
In other weekend men's games, Hancocks defeated Toowoomba Newtown 5-3 and Easts thrashed Toowoomba Past High 10-2.
Player/coach Jake Burns scored a hat-trick for Hancocks.
Pocock said Norths were travelling okay considering the number of players regularly away with work commitments and a lack of training cohesion due to representative demands.
"We tend to have a different team week to week which makes it a bit tough,'' he said.
"The good thing is our Reserve graders have been really, really stepping up well. (Against Wests), we had probably six or seven Reserve graders play and they just played great, which is a good sign of depth for the club.''
That includes loyal club campaigners like Steven Ihle, who is playing two games a weekend, along with Ipswich under-18 representative Kyle Dolan.
Pocock is keen to focus on club hockey in coming weeks now that his Ipswich and South West Queensland commitments are over for another year.
"For Ipswich, that was probably the best hockey I've played ever on the second day of that tournament,'' he said.
"To lose the semi (after drawing 4-4 against Townsville) was pretty heart-breaking.
"I think we could have really given Toowoomba a shake in the final.''
Pocock said defending champions SWQ missed injured defender Kris Glass.
"I don't think we really had a back-up plan to be able to play his position the way he does,'' he said.
"Him and I have played fullback together for the last three years and we play well together.''
Pocock said it took a few games for the new combination to gel, something teams can't afford in a cut-throat series like Super League.
However, that is one of Norths strengths, even with players coming and going.
Pocock and senior players like Tobias Figura and Dean Jeffrey always click, when they get on the field together.
"I think it will all come together in the finals,'' Pocock said.
State of Play
- A Grade men: Norths Ipswich 4 (N Maddocks 2, L Brown, D Jeffrey) d Wests 3 (B Iszlaub 2, C Coulson-Futcher); Hancock Brothers 5 (J Burns 3, N Smith, J Pavitt) d Newtown 3 (T Rachord, J Kruger, J Mc- Paul); Easts 10 d Past High 2.
- A Grade women: Wests 2 (G Nicholls, E Johnson) d Newtown 0; Swifts/Thistles 3 d Red Lion 1; Past High 4 (H Gilbar, C Doherty, E McCurley- Ault, D Ashurst) d Bellbowrie 1 (L Ahern); Norths Ipswich 5 (S Parlett 2, M Leeder, Z Fox, C Brown) d Rangeville 3 (C Russ, K Wollstein, H Love); Norths Toowoomba 2 (A Mutch 2) d Hancock Brothers 1 (J Hooper).