IT was a case of everybody's shuffling for the women and same, same but different for the men in the latest round of Central West Premier League Hockey.
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The Saints men tightened their hold on the minor premiership by beating Lithgow Storm, while Parkes remains in third after a draw with Orange Wanderers.
In the women's competition Souths, Orange CYMS and Orange United all climbed, Bathurst City, St Pat's and Parkes dropped down the ladder and while Lithgow Panthers stayed on top, it suffered a second consecutive loss.
We break down what it all means in this week's edition of Drag Flick.
GETTING attitude, finding confidence - St Pat's win over Lithgow Storm last Saturday brought with it more than just competition points.
It helped spark the belief in the young members of the Saints squad that they are good enough to beat a real heavyweight of the men's Central West Premier League Hockey competition.
Though it was not the first time the Saints had beaten Lithgow this season, as co-captain Tyler Willott pointed out the less experienced players in blue and white really stepped up.
"Sometimes those younger guys can find it a bit hard playing those tougher teams, so to beat Lithgow, that will definitely go a long way to helping their confidence," Willott said.
"I think they [Storm] had a couple more players than they did last time we played them. It's nice to know that we can do it and that will instil plenty of confidence that we can do it, especially in the younger guys."
Oliver Bestwick, who scored the match winner in the final quarter, was a perfect example of a younger Saint stepping up.
He not only ran hard when attacking, but pressured Storm's fullbacks when they tried to clear.
"That was probably Oli's best game so far, he hasn't been getting heaps and heaps of time, but he proved he deserved to be out there today," Willott said.
"It's a big attitude thing, I don't care if they get tackled if they turn around and bust their arse getting back to try and pull off a tackle."
Ruben Martin-Clark, another under 18s talent, did plenty of good things in defence for the Saints who now hold an eight-point lead over Storm.
HOME is where the heart is and when it comes to the fortunes of the Parkes men, they hope it's where the points are too.
While St Pat's and Lithgow Storm have already locked in a finals spot, Parkes is desperate to take the last position in the the top three.
Drawing 2-all with Orange Wanderers - the other contender for that spot - last Saturday sets up a big last fortnight of action.
Parkes led 2-0 at half-time in that clash, but Wanderers fought back to force a draw, its second goal coming with around five minutes remaining.
"We created good opportunities in the third and fourth quarters, I know we didn't convert, but we were still creating good opportunities and putting pressure on Orange," Parkes' Dan Wilson said.
"A draw is better than a loss, we're still basically four points in front of them. This weekend we play Bathurst and they play Lithgow and then it swaps the week after, but they're on the road for those two games and we've got two home games."
As Wilson mentioned, Parkes will play both its remaining regular season matches on home turf. It's a factor he knows will help his side in their mission to claim third spot.
"Hopefully we can jag a win at home and really cement that third spot. Playing at home is huge, especially this weekend because the women have organised a family day and hopefully we'll get a big crowd," he said.
"It always has been that we I guess grow that extra leg at home .. when you're at home you're comfortable with the way the turf plays and you're not having to travel and have stiff legs getting out of the car.
"We've certainly challenged St Pat's at home throughout the season, we lost 2-1 the last time they were up in Parkes and the time before that when they were in Parkes in was 3-1 ... so we're thereabouts.
"With Lithgow, we haven't played them at Parkes yet, but we beat them down at Lithgow earlier in the year."
The other factor Wilson feels will aid Parkes in its bid to qualify for finals are the young talents within the squad.
The way they have improved throughout the season and are not intimidated by more experienced rivals has impressed Wilson.
"We've certainly got confidence in the young side that we've got, if we all turn up with the right mindset we can give it to them, match it with Bathurst and Lithgow," he said.
"The young guys we've got, they don't really go into games and worry about who they're playing. That's the beauty of youth, reputation means nothing to them and they're all building into good hockey players in their own right."
BRITISH pop had the Thompson twins, but Bathurst City has the Thompson sisters and all three are fired up for a big Saturday.
Emily, Ruby and Maggie Thompson have all been major assets since joining Bathurst City.
Emily was the first to play for City in season 2020 and her sisters soon followed.
The club she made the switch from was Lithgow Panthers and that's who Bathurst City will meet this Saturday.
It's a match that is critical to Bathurst City's finals chances.
After last Saturday's loss to Souths, City slipped to seventh on the ladder, but it is two points outside the top four.
"We always play good against Lithgow in Lithgow, they'll have their [New South Wales] Country girls out," City coach Mal Willott said.
"The three Thompsons are all from Lithgow and they always play really well against Lithgow, they hate losing to Lithgow, it will be game on."
The work the Thompsons do in helping the ball transition from defence to attack will be critical if City is to beat the competition leaders.
However, it is an area in which the Bathurst side has shown good improvement.
"That's the difference between the start of the season and now, it shows our confidence in one another. We're passing the ball to each other and not flogging it," Willott said.
"We keep the ball now, they want it they've got to come and get it off us, which is what I like. We've worked hard on that, you can see the results."
TWO Bathurst derby wins in a row, second spot on the ladder and perhaps even more importantly, a positive goal differential.
Though its position in the top four is not yet a lock, the past fortnight has Souths on track to finally end its Central West Premier League Hockey finals drought.
Souths currently sits second on the ladder on 24 points - that's two wins clear of the trio of Orange CYMS, Orange United and Parkes (16) who are all jostling for a spot in the top four.
A bye in this Saturday's penultimate round means Souths can't earn any points, but a win in the final round against Orange CYMS will mean the two blues advance.
The other thing working in Souths' favour is that it now has a positive goal difference after defeating St Pat's 2-1 and Bathurst City 3-1 in the past fortnight.
Given the tight nature of the ladder, that could prove a critical factor.
"Defence is probably one of the main areas we've worked on, we've worked on obviously a lot of areas, but defensively we've really improved," Souths coach Scott Hanrahan said.
"We're still conceding too many short corners and when fatigue sets in those things happen with a few lazy tackles and things like that.
"But defensively we've worked really hard and I think we pose a problem for teams trying to score against us, which is a good thing."
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