Tigers tough to beat for title
IF anyone doubted Easts were premiership favourites, they were given a clearcut answer during an exciting doubleheader at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Easts won both A-grade men's matches over main Ipswich competition threats Norths.
The Tigers triumphed 5-4 on Saturday night before sealing the advantage in Sunday night's 4-2 win.
Given the Easts' players had limited training in recent weeks due to the rain and State of Origin games, coach Paul Malcolm was delighted with the timely victories.
"It was good to see where we are at and the boys were able to do what they did against a quality side like Norths," Malcolm said.
"I put Norths a little bit ahead of Hannies (third-placed Hancocks)."
Malcolm said the defending premiers would continue to respect the Devils as the Ipswich playoffs approach.
"It had a real finals' feel to it," he said of the tough weekend matches.
"Both teams were in the game the whole time.
"I was really impressed, not only with my Easts' boys but how the Norths' boys played as well.
"Over the weekend we'd get a goal up and a lot of teams would fall away and drop their heads but Norths kept coming."
Experienced campaigner Malcolm has a high regard for Norths' speedsters like Dean Jeffrey and Anthony Woodward.
Queensland Blades squad member Tobias Figura also played on Sunday night, providing a workout for the full-strength Easts' side.
Easts were without Llewelyn brothers David and Mark on Saturday night. However, a fit-looking Tim Woodford made his return from injury.
"He's still got a broken thumb but you wouldn't know it the way he's playing," Malcolm said.
Malcolm said his team showed the benefit of being a closeknit and successful unit.
"Over the last six weeks, we've only managed to get one training session in together," he said.
"We're very lucky that we've been together for four or five years.
"The boys know each other's game and just the skill the boys have got on the field."
Malcolm tipped Easts to be stronger for the finals once they maintain a better training program. "We've got massive amounts left in the tank," he said.
Easts face another tough test at Raceview on Saturday night against Toowoomba heavyweights Newtown.
However, after taming Norths twice, he's confident Easts are progressing well, highlighted by their goal-scoring prowess.
Daniel Mantell netted a hat-trick on Saturday night, backed by other goal-scorers Steve Bayliss, Woodford and David Llewelyn.
"There was no individuals sticking out over the weekend," Malcolm said. "They played top quality hockey as a team.
"I'm very happy."
A-grade men: Easts 5 (D Mantell 3, S Bayliss, T Woodford) d Norths 4 (D Jeffrey 2, A Woodward 2); Easts 4 (S Bayliss, T Woodford, D Llewelyn, D Mantell) d Norths 2 (J Dalais, A Woodward); Wests 2 (D Goodwin, G Walker) drew Past High 2; Hancock Brothers 7 (P Mitchell 4, A Sippel, D Pavitt, B Nicholls) d Norths Toowoomba 0.
A-grade women: Norths Toowoomba 5 d Hancock Brothers 3 (N Davison, J Woodford, S Rogers); Thistles 4 (S Jeffreys 2, M Ward, R Fitzgerald) d Newtown 1 (G Lucht); Swifts 6 (A Callow 4, L Crowe, A Stacy) d Past High 0; Bellbowrie 3 (R Clark 2, S Bice) d Norths 0.