Hockey: Flames looking to extinguish Waratahs title run

On the chase: Waratahs' Katrina Rekunow shadows Flames' Julie Rodda during Flames' major semi-final win two weeks ago. Photo: Ben Jaffrey
On the chase: Waratahs' Katrina Rekunow shadows Flames' Julie Rodda during Flames' major semi-final win two weeks ago. Photo: Ben Jaffrey

The disappointment of grand final defeat is fanning Flames’ fire as they prepare to take on Waratahs in Sunday’s Tamworth women’s first grade grand final.

Last season they finished minor premiers and then beat Waratahs in the major semi-final, only to be burnt by the defending champions in the grand final.

“We’re definitely keen to try and reverse our fortunes,” club president and striker/midfielder Julie Rodda said.

They were the first team through to the decider after downing Waratahs 3-nil, but aren’t getting too carried away by that result.

“It does give us confidence but we are also very conscious of what happened last year,” Rodda said.

“We know we have to turn up ready to play.”

With coach Barrie Pritchard overseas, Craig Mackay will be running them on Sunday. Pritchard has though been in contact and one thing he has been communicating is to just play like they have every game. 

strong performer: Abigail Doolan was one of Waratah's best last week as they set up a grand final rematch with Flames. Photo: Ben Jaffrey

strong performer: Abigail Doolan was one of Waratah's best last week as they set up a grand final rematch with Flames. Photo: Ben Jaffrey

“We need to remember that we don’t have to do anything spectacular,” Rodda said.

“It’s about everyone doing what we’ve done through the season and every player playing their role well.”

She said both teams have talent all over the field but generally when the two sides play it is a big battle in the middle.

“We’ll definitely need to win that challenge to win the match,” she said.

They will be chasing their first title since 2013 when they incidentally defeated Waratahs.

Waratahs coach Graeme McKenzie is well aware of the challenge in front of his side, and that they are underdogs.

But so they were last year.

“To be honest our girls did play very well and were very committed to the task but Flames had one of those days where things didn’t go right. We’d have to be the luckiest team in the world for that to happen again,” he said.

Outplayed in the major semi-final, McKenzie acknowledged they will have to play a lot better than they did two weeks ago. The preliminary final last week was a step in the right direction.

“We still need to improve further if we’re going to make a competitive game out of it,” he said.

“We’ve got to turn up and really want to get in the fight.”

Usually a strength for them, he highlighted the midfield as where Flames really hurt them.

“We have to be tougher, tighter and smarter in the midfield,” he said.

“They probably outmuscled us as well.

“We have to muscle up and compete on those individual scenarios across the field.”

They also have to limit their turnovers. Over the season that is what has burnt them McKenzie said.