Grand final reprisal

Robins’ Ella Curtain keeps a close mark on Irishtown’s Donna Porteus in the sides’ Div 2 opener on Saturday. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

CHHA. Round one saw Tigers and Mustangs contest the first official game on Smithton Hockey Centre’s new turf, while Irishtown exacted their revenge on 2014 premiers Robins.

Perfect conditions greeted the players for the season opener of the Div 2 women’s competition on Friday night, which saw Tigers take on Mustangs in what would be the match of the round.

From the start of the game both sides struggled for possession, while adapting their play to the new rules that have come into effect this year.

Tigers began to control the play through Karlette Perry and Camilla Woolley, asserting their dominance in the midfield which led to a series of short corners.

Strong defence from Mustangs keeper Katie Ball and full back Ara Popowski held the Tigers out until Irene Grey struck off a short corner, hard and low into the left side of the goal to send them to the half-time break one up.

Momentum shifted after play resumed in the second half and the Mustangs pushed hard into attack to force a short corner, which led to Nakore Popowski scoring an equaliser. This lifted the tempo of the game and saw both sides attack and defend vigorously.

A scramble in Mustangs’ defensive circle saw the ball pop out, and a well-placed Jessie Ollington deflected the ball past the keeper to regain the lead for Tigers.

Now with the lead again, Tigers applied more pressure on Mustangs’ defence and after a succession of slick passes forward, they found the stick of Hannah Jackson who deflected in a third goal to seal the game 3-1 in Tigers’ favour.

Best players for the Tigers were Perry, Woolley and Kylie Monson with Mustangs’ best being Ball, Daria Reeve and Nakore Popowski.

A new-look Robins outfit took on Irishtown in last year’s grand final rematch, with both sides making a solid start in the opening stages of the match.

While the majority of the first half remained a close tussle, Amanda House was the first to break through for Irishtown, opening the scoring before Donna Porteus put in a second goal later in the half.

The second half was a much more even affair, with play opening up and both teams maximising the full width of the pitch.

House eventually scored her second goal of the game for Irishtown to take the final score to 3-0, with a fourth goal being disallowed due to dangerous play.

Best on ground for Irishtown were Porteus, Melinda Brown, Ashleigh Force and Georgina Finch, while Brooke Walters, Leah House, Ella House and Paige Ferguson were named for Robins.

In Div 3 matches, Tigers had a convincing 6-1 win over Mustangs while Irishtown drew with Robins at two apiece.

A number of rule changes have come into play this year, with Hockey Tasmania aiming to ‘make the game more exciting’ and ‘encourage more goals’ in adapting to the increasing skill level of players.

From U/18 level through to GNL, the ball may now be played above the shoulder with players penalised only if the ball comes down in a dangerous situation.

Players can now also take attacking free hits – awarded within five metres from the edge of the circle – from the point of the offence, while an adaption to long corners and the deletion of the ‘10-metre ruling’ have been enforced.

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