Stopping lethal Zac the key: Hancocks running hot
WITHOUT any representative commitments in the second half of the season, Hancocks captain Nathan Smith can concentrate entirely on another Ipswich hockey premiership.
After seeing his team secure back-to-back finals, he has every reason to feel confident.
Although Norths led 3-1 in the A-Grade mid-season final, Hancocks again showed why they are defending champions.
"We were a bit slow to start but we really turned it on and scored five goals in the last half,'' Smith said, reflecting on the eventual 6-3 win.
While getting behind may be a cause for concern, Smith knows what his team is capable of.
"We just started to use the guys in the midfield,'' he said. "And keep the ball away from young Zac Profke.''
State player Profke has been in lethal goal-scoring form this season, especially smashing in penalty corners. Profke scored all three Norths' goals against Hancocks.
"He's very dangerous,'' Smith said.
Friday night's victory came a week after Hancocks beat Toowoomba pacesetters Red Lion 2-0 in the Combined Competition final.
"It was good to go back-to-back,'' Smith said.
"We've still got room for improvement.
"But you can't really be too upset when you come back from 3-1 and win 6-3.''
Smith said the Hancocks squad was working hard with another Ipswich finals series looming.
He said Sam Morgan, Sam Dobbie, Jackson Willie and his brother Ryan were among the team's most consistent players.
Jay Pavitt has also returned from injury, strengthening the Hancocks' firepower.
For Norths, losing key player Luke Randle before the mid-season final didn't help.
Randle required surgery after smashing his finger in Brisbane.
Norths coach Steve Profke said the Devils' second half effort against Hancocks showed they had to work on their consistency.
"The first half was good,'' he said.
"We knew it was going to be tough and it was everything we expected.''
Profke conceded Hancocks were clearly the team to beat.
"They are absolutely on fire at the moment,'' the former premiership-winning player said.
While he's backing his team to make another grand final, Profke said Wests were also a side to be wary of at the business stage of the season.
That's especially the case with experienced duo Todd Watson and Steve Rogers assisting coach Greg Walker.
"Wests are always a threat,'' Profke said.
"Todd being there to guide on the field and Dodger (Rogers) up front helping out are a real danger.''
Wests beat Easts 8-2 in their latest game over the weekend.
Mainstays in the Norths' side in recent weeks have been David Visser, Steven Ihle and Luke Brown.
Visser has stepped into a more senior role this season.