DREAMCOAT will be aiming to do the Hockey New England Super 9s double tonight, but will have to overcome the top finishers to achieve that, and in the women’s case an undefeated Sportspower side.
The men will be take on a Hutchinson and Harlow side that has really found its groove after a bit of a slow start.
“The first few weeks we had a few players out,” skipper Ben Hanlan said.
Since then we have really stepped up and become the team to beat.
Early on Dreamcoat held that mantle and despite beating them only last week Hutchinson won’t be taking them lightly.
“They weren’t at full strength,” Hanlan said.
“We can’t underestimate them.”
The midfield battle could be one of the defining contests.
“They’re fairly dangerous through the midfield,” he said.
One of the keys to their chances will be limiting the amount of time Jimmy O’Brien and Josh Worpel have with the ball. They drive a lot of the Dreamcoat attack.
That said Hanlan said they’ve got a strong midfield, and if there’s one part of Hutchinson’s game that’s been particularly impressive it’s their defence.
“Our backs have been defending well.
“They’ve been able to get it out and haven’t conceded many goals recently,” Hanlan said.
Their stats show a few clean sheets. Keeper Peter Georkis has been a big reason for that. He’s been outstanding in goals.
Hanlan has been involved in the 9s since its inception but this is his first year captaining.
It could be a big couple of days for him. He could win a grand final and earn a spot in another with his Easts side facing Armidale City in the first grade cricket preliminary final on Saturday.
Like Hutchinson they’re coming good at the right end of the season.
Hanlan will be large on Dreamcoat’s radar. He’s been playing phenomenal hockey, Dreamcoat captain Matt Jackson said, and they’ll be looking to limit the number of times he gets the ball.
They have lost both times they’ve played Hutchinson but Jackson isn’t worrying too much about last week. They had five out including Worpel.
He should be back tonight but they won’t have Justin Hickey.
“He’s been a massive rock at the back,” Jackson said.
Last week they managed to keep Hutchinson to just two goals, and had success pushing them wide.
“We’ve been making them go wide instead of letting them come through the midfield.
“That’s helped us,” Jackson said.
Conversely their midfield is a strength.
“We can turn over a lot of ball in the midfield and counter,” Jackson said.
Another key thing for them is converting their opportunities, something they haven’t done that well throughout the competition.
“We’ve had a number of short corners and number of long corners that we haven’t been able to capitalize on,” he said.
“If we can look to score of 25/30 per cent of those it’ll go a long way to winning the game.”