Sport

No joke: Why Magpies are an early threat

SHARP SHOOTER: Wests A Grade player Amy Kickbusch celebrates one of her three goals in her team's win over Norths.
SHARP SHOOTER: Wests A Grade player Amy Kickbusch celebrates one of her three goals in her team's win over Norths. Carl Groenewald

TWO from two in each grade. Wests are flying high at the start of another Ipswich A Grade hockey season.

The defending women's premiers have made an expected solid start beating Norths 4-0 at the weekend after a 9-0 victory over Bellbowrie in the first game.

Former international striker Amy Kickbusch scored a hat-trick in the latest match after Australian Schoolgirls and state under-18 talent Gabby Nicholls did the same a week earlier.

The Magpies are already firm favourites to win back-to-back women's premierships.

However, it's the resurgent Wests' men that have strengthened the Ipswich club's title hopes this season.

Player/coach Greg Walker is eagerly awaiting this weekend's showdown with Easts after Wests beat defending premiers Norths 4-2 on Saturday night at Raceview.

That impressive effort came after Wests opened their season with a 2-0 win over Hancock Brothers.

"We had a bit of a joke on the weekend that we've got the same amount of points (six) already as we had last year,'' club stalwart Walker said.

"It's pretty exciting actually. The boys are pretty happy to be winning games again.

"All of our guys have got a great attitude at the moment.

"Everyone is working well as a team and our defence has been a big factor.''

Securing Todd Watson, Jarrod Brown and Trent Davison has strengthened Wests' defensive muscle.

Walker is also pleased with his team's attack with the four field goals scored by different players.

Inside left Matt Westphal netted his first A Grade goal, with striker Watson, inside Andrew Horrocks and defender Lucas Alchin joining the scoring ranks.

"Usually the last few years we've been scoring one or two goals in the first half and becoming lackadaisical in the second half and end up losing 5-2, 6-2 or something like that,'' Walker said.

"Our defence is working really well this year. We've only had the two goals scored against us and only had two or three corners against us.''

Walker said improved fitness was also telling with Wests scoring three goals in the second half.

"Everyone is keen to train and turn up,'' the first-time A Grade mentor said. "It's just showing in games, the extra fitness we've been doing and the way we are playing.

"There's a good feeling back in the team again. It's good for the club.''

The A Grade duel between Wests and another revitalised team in Easts is at 5.30pm on Sunday.

Easts beat Hancocks 3-2 in their latest encounter after pushing Norths all the way in their return to A Grade the week before.

In the other A Grade women's match, Swifts held out Bellbowrie 1-0 having opened their season with a 0-0 draw against Hancocks.

Topics:  amy kickbusch greg walker ipswich hockey association ipswich hockey wrap magpies wests hockey club