IF St Pat’s White is to defend its Bathurst Men’s Hockey Association first grade premiership this Saturday, it will mean shutting down the formidable attack of Souths Aces.
The Aces, who have made their first grand final since clinching a premiership hat-trick between 2014-12, have scored over 100 goals on their way to the grand final.
Aces’ line-up includes seven members of the Souths team which made the Premier League Hockey grand final, though Kieran Gentles may not line up on Saturday.
“Kieran is still in doubt because he has still got a knee injury from the Premier League grand final and he’s going away to over 35s the Thursday after the grand final and it would be a bit of a risk,” Aces’ Chris Stafford said.
Still, even if Gentles is absent, Aces will have a formidable line-up.
They will also be looking to make amends for a 5-1 major semi-final defeat at the hands of White a fortnight ago.
“If we put a full team on the paddock, hopefully it’s a lot closer than the semi. We just ran out of legs in the end, hot day, one sub,” Stafford said.
“The Whites team is probably a bit like us, their older blokes are only like late 20s early 30s and they’ve got a bit of Premier League experience as well.”
The major semi-final was was White’s second win from five meetings with Aces so far this season.
Whites took out the first game 4-1, but Aces won the next four to the tune of 6-1, 12-4, 9-4 and 10-5.
Still, Whites’ Prekash Titheridge felt the win in the grand final qualifier was not a huge upset.
He believes the White has the right mix of players to go back-to-back, having beaten St Pat’s Blue 6-2 in last year’s grand final.
“They’re [Aces] a pretty good side, but I wouldn’t say it was a surprise we won, I feel confident we can beat them every week, it really just comes down to the day,” Titheridge said.
“We’ve got a fair few young guys, juniors who have been playing with us for a couple of years but haven’t quite made Premier League yet, plus we’ve got quite a few guys with a fair bit of Premier League experience as well.
“I think it will definitely come down to which team turns up with the most intensity.”
Though the semi-final win was comfortable in terms of the scoreline, Titheridge feels the battle on the field was been tighter than it suggests.
“It does give us confidence that we won, but it was pretty close up until that last 10 minutes, we put a few goals on them in the second half that probably made the score more lop-sided than the game actually was,” he said.
“But I would say I’m quietly confident about this weekend.”
The grand final at Bob Roach Field starts at 3pm.