THE women’s Premier League Hockey competition is only one round old, but this Saturday’s contest between Bathurst City and St Pat’s still shapes as a gripping battle.
Both teams have been through an intensive pre-season, both teams won their season openers and both teams have a history of stepping things up a notch when it comes to a Bathurst derby.
Defending premiers City – who knocked out Pat’s in last season’s preliminary final – are under the guidance of Nick Klower in 2018.
The coaching job is not without the pressure of expectation, but Klower said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I couldn’t think of a better time to do it really, they’re a great bunch of girls. I couldn’t ask for an easier time to step up and coach a team like that,” he said.
“I’ve been coaching for years from juniors through to seniors, men’s first grade, junior representative sides, I’ve just completed the Western Region Academy of Sport program.
“It’s a challenge too with them winning last year. There’s a lot of expectation on them doing the same this year, but they’re very much a new-look team this year, it’s a very young side.”
Following a 10-week pre-season program with Kieren O’Dwyer and Amy Dewar of Bathurst Strength and Conditioning, City began its title defence with a 3-0 win over Ex-Services in Orange.
Still, Klower knows his players will need to bring even more intensity to their hockey this Saturday against a rival he has plenty of respect for.
“It’s going to be interesting. I have full confidence in the girls, but it’s certainly going to be a close game, I personally don’t feel there will be any more than one or two goals in it,” he said.
“I think with the quality of players they have, Pat’s are an amazing side. Their pre-season, from what I’ve heard, has been absolutely fantastic.
“They’re going to really want to have this win this weekend because – having been the team before that’s been knocked out, I know I’ve never liked that and it really makes to want to win that first game back.
“I think it’s going to be one of the better games in the opening round of clashes, I think it’s going to be awesome and exciting.”
While Klower will not be present for the match – Phil Baker to cover in his absence – he will anxiously be awaiting for updates as the contest unfolds.
He feels a win would give his squad a valuable injection of confidence and self-belief.
“The win and the bragging rights would be a good thing … but I think it would be better to just instil confidence in the girls, that they are capable of beating the top tier teams and prove that it wasn’t luck last year,” he said.
“I think a win this weekend would really reflect on the preparation they’ve done in the pre-season.”
Saturday’s game commences at 3.20pm at Bob Roach Field.