Wests players Lauren Hess (left) and Eden Jackat (behind) should play key roles in Saturday's Ipswich A-Grade hockey grand final.
Wests players Lauren Hess (left) and Eden Jackat (behind) should play key roles in Saturday's Ipswich A-Grade hockey grand final. Carl Groenewald

What a difference a year makes for these young players

MULTIPLE premiership-winning Wests coach Brent Nicholls rejects the theory that you have to lose a grand final before you win one.

However, he goes into Saturday's A-Grade women's hockey decider feeling more positive after the young Magpies squad experienced a grand final last year in losing to Hancock Brothers.

With Hancocks eliminated by Swifts last weekend, Wests have a different type of opponent to size up in this afternoon's main match of the season.

However, Nicholls is backing his skilful squad all the way in their quest to win another major title for the club.

"We're ecstatic,'' Nicholls said, having guided some of Ipswich's exciting teenage players to another grand final.

"Every single person in our squad was in our squad from last year.''

Wests have been co-captained by Brent's wife Amy and a regular goal scorer Eden Jackat.

The team had their final session on Tuesday night.

"The girls have played a lot of hockey between rep hockey and the club season and mid-season,'' the coach said, happy to see them freshen up.

"Everybody is fit and keen to go.

"The preparation has been spot on and I expect that we will go well.

"And the spirit around the club is really good.''

Wests had last weekend off after beating Hancocks in the qualifying semi-final.

That gave Swifts a chance to reach the grand final after they beat Bellbowrie in a thrilling extra-time knockout final a week earlier.

Having been around Ipswich hockey a long time, Nicholls knows what Swifts are capable of. He wasn't surprised to see them make a late charge.

"They are a very gritty team and very tenacious,'' Nicholls said, wary of Swifts' ability to slow down a match.

"Our main aim is to keep the game open.

"One of our strengths is shifting the ball quickly and really playing a fast game.''

Swifts coach Megan Bool also knows that one of her team's best attributes is having played a lot of hockey together.

Stalwarts like captain Bridget McLean and Susie Marcussen have many grand finals between them.

"As a team, we all knew that if we played well, we could match any side,'' Bool said, happy how Swifts toiled hard against Hancocks in last weekend's preliminary final.

"I think we've been slowly building and building.

"Hancocks have some really talented girls and we tried to shut them down. We did that.''

Susie's daughter Chante is among the younger brigade helping Swifts maintain their big game reputation.

With no team injury worries, Bool is excited about another showdown with Wests.

"They (Wests) have been one of the standouts all season and they have really talented girls,'' she said.

"It is definitely going to be a huge effort for us to try and match them but throughout the season and in the last couple of weeks we've shown we can do it.''

Centre half Bool is also playing in tomorrow's Reserve Grade grand final for Swifts.

The Bluebirds Reserve grade team advanced directly to the grand final after beating tomorrow's opponents Wests 1-0 in the first week of finals.

That final is at 12.45pm.

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