'Second' chance for Norths, Hancocks to hit back
HOCKEY: One pumped player has lined up in "14 or 15'' grand finals, eager to improve on his "50 per cent'' winning record.
The other energetic talent is preparing for her fourth grand final, also keen to bolster her success rate.
Although in different teams, Dean Jeffrey and Abby Eleison have similar goals in Saturday night's Ipswich A-Grade grand finals at Raceview.
Norths' stalwart Jeffrey and exciting Hancocks' prospect Eleison will join their teammates in the season deciders after their second-placed teams won Sunday night's preliminary finals.
Norths earnt another shot at defending premiers Hancocks after overrunning Wests 5-0.
The Hancocks women are bracing for their repeat attempt at stopping powerful titleholders Wests, who had only one loss this season - to Saturday night's grand final rivals.
Hancocks ended Swifts' hopes of advancing with a committed 4-0 victory in the preliminary final.
For Jeffrey, finals are familiar but always challenging, especially against similarly dangerous teams like Hancocks.
"We didn't win last week so after the win tonight we'll hopefully have a good training session and rock up,'' Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey scored Norths' first goal on Sunday night to get the Devils rolling. Teammates Zac Profke, Jake Thornton and Luke Brown also netted goals as Norths repelled a spirited Wests' first half effort to get on top.
Jeffrey, 31, has shared in a series of Norths' grand final wins with more experienced players in the past. However, he's excited about the current youth-laden Norths' line-up.
"There's only three or four over the age of 25 and all the rest are below 20,'' he said.
While Hancocks are fierce rivals and regularly stage tight battles, long-time representative player Jeffrey enjoys tackling them.
"We've got a pretty friendship with most of them out there,'' he said, having joined them in Ipswich, South West Queensland and Queensland Country teams.
Turning 18 next month, Eleison has been part of one previous Hancocks' premiership, also knowing what it's like to be runners-up.
She was pleased how Hancocks responded in the preliminary final after losing 7-2 to Wests in the qualifying final.
"It was good to get a win and get a really good start,'' Eleison said.
"We said right from the get-go that we really needed to be ready because Swifts were going to come out hard.
"This is another opportunity to have a crack at Wests again and really redeem ourselves from last time.''
Having focused on her Ipswich club commitments this season, Eleison knows it will take a lot of work to beat Wests.
However, with a quality core of skilful and experienced players, Hancocks are the one team that can upstage the Magpies. That was shown a few weeks ago when Hancocks won 3-2 leading into the finals.
"We got on top in that game and they were missing a few players but it was really good to get the win and make sure they didn't go undefeated,'' she said.
"Let's hope we can nail them again.''
Eleison expected her older sister Layla, a Queensland player, to be available this weekend, around her Brisbane commitments.
Other dual registered players like Kelly McNamara and captain Sara Rogers should also be right to bolster Hancocks.
"It will be good to have those girls back for that game,'' the reliable defender said.
"We do it for each other when we go out there and that's the main thing, just to have fun.''
In lower grade preliminary finals over the weekend, the Hancocks R2 women and Easts R2 men won in extra time.
The senior grand finals start on Friday night, finishing with the A-Grade showdowns from 5pm on Saturday.
A-Grade men: Norths 5 (Zac Profke 2, Jake Thornton, Dean Jeffrey, Luke Brown) d Wests 0.
A-Grade women: Hancock Brothers 4 (Sara Rogers, Caleisha Harper, Natalie Davison, Aimee McDermott) d Swifts 0.
Men's Reserve Grade: Wests 2 (A Gotting, D Goodwin) d Norths 1 (L Crowhurst).
Women's Reserve Grade: Wests White 4 (T Canty 2, C Canty, G Stenzel) d Wests Black 0.
Men's R2 Grade: Easts 2 (J Barnes 2) drew Wests 2 (D Arndt, J Wilkinson) in normal time. Easts won 3-2 in shootouts.
Women's R2 Grade: Hancock Brothers 1 (B Mantell) drew Veterans 1 (J Choppy) in normal time. Hancocks won 4-3 in shoot-outs.
Men's A2 Grade: Norths 3 (N Campbell, A Woods, Z Pascoe) d Wests 0.
Women's A2 Grade: Thistles 3 (L Steele 2, T Wright) d Bellbowrie 2 (M Cotter, D Menon).