Title decider between Easts and Norths looms as cracker

TIGERS ROAR: Easts and Wests players battle for possession during Sunday’s Reserve grade clash at Raceview. Easts won the Reserve and A-grade preliminary finals against Wests to advance to this weekend’s grand finals.
TIGERS ROAR: Easts and Wests players battle for possession during Sunday’s Reserve grade clash at Raceview. Easts won the Reserve and A-grade preliminary finals against Wests to advance to this weekend’s grand finals. Claudia Baxter

IT'S the showdown many Ipswich hockey fans have been waiting for.

Defending premiers and finals specialists Norths against minor premiers and free-scoring Easts.

A rematch is exactly what Easts coach Darren Manson is eagerly awaiting after the Tigers won Sunday night's A-grade preliminary final at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

Easts ended the gallant run of Wests, winning 5-4 after being 4-1 up.

"Towards the end it got a bit close but I felt like we were in control," Manson said.

"We just lost our way a little bit in the second half."

Manson earlier scored a goal in Easts' 2-0 Reserve grade preliminary final win over Wests. The Tigers also qualified for that grand final against Hancocks at 2.30pm on Saturday.

However, it's the 6pm duel between the top two teams that should provide the most anticipated encounter.

"They're keen to be there but we've got a big job in front of us," Manson said.

Easts won Sunday night's preliminary final with goalkeeper Patrick Collingwood stepping in for representative keeper Andrew Woodford (shoulder injury).

Manson was encouraged by Collingwood's effort which held up one end while Easts' lethal attack went to work.

Tim Woodford scored twice, with Chris Mantell, Brenton Sippel and Daniel Mantell contributing goals.

Nathan Hooper scored a double for Wests, with Aaron Gotting and Damien Goodwin also finding the net. But Wests' revival came too late.

"The boys threw it around," Manson said. "Particularly the first half was really really strong for us."

Manson praised Wests for their improved A-grade season.

"They've got a lot of good young kids coming through," the experienced campaigner said. "They'll be a force in the next couple of years if they can hang onto them."



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