Terrific comeback: Wests survive final scare
BOTH competitive coaches agreed an exciting Ipswich premiership battle loomed after a mid-season final between two quality sides.
Defending champions Wests claimed the latest spoils with a 5-3 victory over Hancock Brothers in Sunday night's A-Grade women's clash.
Wests were given an almighty scare when last year's runners-up took a 3-1 lead in the second half.
Only late goals by Jordn Office and Jade Close ensured Wests continued their recent domination over Hancocks in big games.
However, coaches Brent Nicholls (Wests) and Mark Eleison (Hancocks) offered similar sentiments after the entertaining encounter at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
"It was a really good game,'' Nicholls said.
"They came very switched on ready to play and stuck it to us.
"When we were 3-1 down, fortunately we kept our composure and found some goals late in the game.''
Nicholls said it was beneficial for his competition-leading side to face different challenges "to find out where you are as a team and as individuals as well.''
Eleison was equally encouraged by his team's performance heading into the business stage of the season.
"The girls can hold their heads up,'' Eleison said. "It's not like we were outclassed.
"It was a really good contest.
"It was good for us, it was good for them and they (Wests) know that we're the side that can push them.''
Kelly McNamara, Layla Eleison and Robyn Clarke scored for Hancocks.
"We were leading 3-1 and we thought 'this is alright','' Eleison said.
"It was worthy of a final. It was very competitive from both sides.
"We just let our guard down for a fraction and they came back and scored a couple of goals.''
Looking ahead to future duels, Eleison was happy with his team's "spine'' featuring his nieces Layla and Abby, captain Sara Rogers, Kayla Tierney and Kelly McNamara.
However, he was saddened to lose forward Jacinda Picker with what could be a season-ending knee injury.
Nicholls has also lost young forward Georgia Stenzel to injury at a time she was starting to develop well.
But the coaching stalwart was pleased to have midfielder Office impress in her first game back, scoring two goals. She had been out for eight weeks with broken fingers.
Wests' other goal scorers were co-captain Eden Jackat and striker Amy Kickbusch.
"It was game on, the whole game,'' Nicholls said.
"Hancocks are a very good side. They have good players all over the park.
"Every time you play them, it's going to be a hard game.''
Nicholls said his team's comeback was most satisfying given Wests had come off a bye and just had illness through the team.
"To be able to find what we did yesterday was pleasing,'' he said. "Everyone across the park put in.''
With Norths upstaging Swifts 2-1 in the other A-Grade women's match, Eleison said the stage was set for a testing final series.
Eleison praised Norths coach Jamie Burns for the work he is doing developing his side this season.
A-Grade women's Mid-season final: Wests 5 (J Office 2, E Jackat, J Close, A Kickbusch) d Hancock Brothers 3 (K McNamara, L Eleison, R Clarke). Other game: Norths Ipswich 2 (S Fynes-Clinton, C Brown) d Swifts 1 (C Shaw).
A-Grade men: Hancock Brothers 6 (Z Hoyland- Meaker 2, J Willie 2, R Smith, C Chappell) d Wests 0; Norths Ipswich 2 (Z Profke 2) d Easts 1 (K Sippel).