SOUTHS will be driven by the pain of last year’s men’s Premier League Hockey grand final defeat this Saturday when it fights for survival.
The two blues will host Lithgow Zig Zag in the minor semi-final at Bob Roach Field, a game they must win to keep their title hopes alive.
And according to coach Ray Winwood-Smith, having a chance to make amends for last year’s grand final loss to Lithgow Panthers is a motivator.
“There’s a real hunger amongst the boys after what happened last year,” he said.
“We got to the grand final and we missed out, but we’ve arguably got a better side this year than what we had last year, and we’d be disappointed if we didn’t put ourselves in position to have another crack at that.
“It is one of those do or die games, you win and you go on and if you don’t your season is done, so they don’t get any more important than these sort of games.”
It was Zig Zag who Souths defeated in a penalty shoot out to qualify for last year’s decider, and since then the two blues have not lost to the Lithgow side.
Souths won 6-0 in round seven, then downed Zig Zag 5-3 last Saturday. Still, as Winwood-Smith points out, “semi-finals are a whole different race.”
“Our biggest challenge is that we’ve played Zig Zag twice and beaten them twice, so our biggest challenge is ourselves, not getting ahead of ourselves,” the coach said.
“We need to execute well, do everything we’ve trained to do.
“There is a very strong, positive vibe at the moment. We are not relaxed because it is a minor semi and we know that Zig Zag will not make it easy for us.
“A little bit of nervousness is good, it keeps everyone on edge, it keeps everyone focused.
“Are we confident? Yes we’re confident, but we can’t be complacent at the same time.”
Matt Johnston will return after sitting out last Saturday, while Adam Campbell was a good chance of overcoming a leg injury to play. The game will commence at noon.