Town and Chatham to square off in Manning hockey grand final

Representative players Bree Pensini and Lara Watts will be two trumps for Town in Saturday's Manning division one women's hockey grand final.
Representative players Bree Pensini and Lara Watts will be two trumps for Town in Saturday's Manning division one women's hockey grand final.

TOWN have injury problems going into Saturday’s Manning division one women’s hockey grand final against Chatham.

Tahni Walters is battling an ankle injury while Bec Dodds is struggling with a knee problem. Dodds was injured in the major semi-final a fortnight ago and is causing the most concern. 

"I’ll give her until the last minute to make a decision,’’ coach Janine Watts said.

Watts is confident Walters will take her place.

“She’s a freak of nature,’’ Watts said.

Three players, Bree Pensini, Jordan Moscatt and Kalani Cross will also make a rushed trip home from Queensland tonight after playing for Taree High in the national schools touch football championship.

Town will go into the match favourites. The club returned to division one this season after a hiatus of more than two decades and claimed the minor premiership.

“The nucleus of the side won division two last year,’’ Watts said.

“But I didn’t expect they’d go this well – I thought we’d win a game here or there and maybe make the semi-finals.’’

Town won three of the four matches against Chatham in the competition-proper.

While Town fields a young side – with the majority still in their teens, Watts points out most have played representative hockey and said they won’t be overawed by the occasion. 

Giant killing Chatham now aim for division one premiership

CHATHAM fell into the Manning division one women's hockey semi-finals on a technicality.

Now they have the opportunity to win the premiership in the grand final against Town tomorrow afternoon, in what will be the club’s first appearance in a women’s division one decider in more than 30 years.

Sharks were docked two competition points for a rules breach and that enabled Chatham to grab fourth spot in the semi-finals. But they weren’t expected to go any further.

However, Chatham gained momentum in the finals series.

On the way to the grand final Chatham has defeated Tigers and Port Dolphins. Chatham scored a tight 3-2 win over Dolphins in the final to move through to tomorrow’s match.

“They're starting to get a bit of belief in themselves,’’ coach Adam Birkefeld said.

“They've always thought they were only in the competition to make up the numbers. But they’ve shown in the last couple of games they’re better than that.

“Now they have a chance to win the premiership.’’

Birkefeld said Grace Coleman and State schools representative Priya Bourke have been standouts in the last month while Kerrie Davy and Sally Geary provide plenty of experience at the back. Davy will represent NSW over 40s at the Australian Masters Championships in Western Australia later this month.

However, Birkefeld admitted the Wolves face a tough task against the talented Town tomorrow.

“But if we can shut down Lara (Watts), Bree (Pensini) and Tahni (Walters) we’re capable of springing an upset,’’ he said.

“That’s going to be a big job though.’’

The women’s division one showdown will be the last game on tomorrow’s program and will be underway from 6.30. Division two women between Town and Wingham starts at 3pm along with the division four clash between Great Lakes Strikers and Cougars. Town and Tigers meet in division three at 1.15.