St Pat's chase a hockey winning double on challenging Orange turf

THE prospect of playing an away Premier League Hockey match in Orange is something all teams know will be a challenge, but St Pat’s is still hoping for a winning double this Saturday afternoon.

The turf at the Orange Hockey Complex is unlike any other used in the competition and it is no secret visiting teams find it a challenge adjusting to the pace of the surface.

But if the Saints want to prevail in the men’s Premier League Hockey match against Wanderers and the women beat Ex-Services, it is something the blue and whites must do.

“Orange teams are hard to beat there with the whole turf scenario, it’s just a different place to play, it’s not like Bathurst or Lithgow or Parkes,” Jaden Ekert, who coaches the Saints women and forms part of the men’s attacking line-up, said.

“At the end of the day everyone has to do it and play there, Orange teams will see that as their advantage to take as they play there and train on that turf all the time.

“But if our basics are right, for both the men and the women, if we can perfect our passing, make it stick-to-stick, if we can get those things right then we’ll be hard to beat.”

The men’s match will see the Saints aiming to keep its undefeated record intact. But while Wanderers has amassed 10 fewer competition points, Ekert is not underestimating the Orange outfit.

When last playing at home Wanderers frustrated 2016 grand finalists Souths before going down 2-1, the Orange side then going on to beat Parkes 7-3.

“Absolutely we will not be taking them lightly, they had a good win the other week,” Ekert said.

“With the calibre of player they’ve got, they are quite capable of winning games in a row.”

In the women’s match where the Saints meet Exies, Ekert is expecting another tough game.

Exies has actually lost one less game than the Saints, but was stripped of four competition points for fielding an unregistered player. Give those back, and the Orange team would be in second.

“They drew with Bathurst City and they’ve knocked off the other Orange team [Confederates], so they must be a good team,” Ekert said.

“They are a bit of an unknown, I’m not sure who they’ve got this season, but that’s good because it will help us to concentrate on ourselves.

“When you don’t know about your opponent, it makes you really focus on your own game and the keys for you rather than worrying about playing particular people.”

The Saints women have lost two games through the six completed rounds and though that has the side positioned near the pointy end of the ladder, Ekert feels things could be better.

“I’m hard to please,” the coach said. “We dropped those two games [against Bathurst City and Confederates] in that double-header and I believe those are two games we shouldn’t have lost.”

The women’s match starts at 1.55pm, with the men’s fixture to follow at 3.20pm.

ON THE ROAD: Justin Mellor and his fellow Saints will play on the testing Orange turf this Saturday. The men will face Wanderers while Pat's women take on Ex-Services. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

ON THE ROAD: Justin Mellor and his fellow Saints will play on the testing Orange turf this Saturday. The men will face Wanderers while Pat's women take on Ex-Services. Photo: PHIL BLATCH