A tough one goal loss to the Warrack Hoops and a solid win by the Kaniva Cobras resulted in the only significant change to the line-up of the finals after the last round of the Wimmera Hockey Association.
With these results, the Cobras have risen to second on the Open division ladder and will square off against the undefeated Yanac Tigers this Saturday for a place in the grand final, whilst the Hoops will have to play the Dimboola Burras, the team that defeated them on Saturday evening, to stay alive in the race.
The first games at Dimboola saw the two Nhill senior teams bow out of the 2017 season with close losses to their Yanac counterparts.
In the Women’s game, both teams were short of players so they agreed to play only nine players on the field, which led to an open free-flowing game.
Yanac proved too strong with both Carmel Beattie and Carmen Trenery scoring twice each and Susan Hedt scoring a fifth goal whilst the Thunderbirds were kept scoreless.
The Nhill Rangers went into their Open division game with the rare luxury of two players on the interchange bench, but the Tigers were relentless in their attacking and although the Nhill team defended courageously the sheer number of attacking moves resulted in the Tigers winning by two goals.
Most interest in the last round centred on the battle for second place.
The Warrack Hoops needed a win or a draw to remain in second and were on track by half-time in their game against the Dimboola Burras, with both teams evenly matched and in a fast-moving game neither team had scored.
There were plenty of opportunities to score after the break but both teams held strong until Lachlan Schultz was able to slip the ball through the Hoops’ defence to break the deadlock.
The Hoops fought valiantly to even the scores, and the game even went down to a short corner played out after the final whistle which the Burras successfully kept out to win the game.
This result opened the door for the Cobras to steal second place if they could defeat the Horsham Hurricanes.
Another scoreless first half meant that it came down to the last 35 minutes to decide second place, and these two teams put on a fitting finale in which a total of six goals were scored. Cobra Karl Glasgow was responsible for three of them, and his teammate Luke Shalders scored another in reply to two scored by Hurricanes’ Jarryd Bannan and Tom Roberts.
This victory allowed the Cobras to finish two points ahead of the Hoops and earn a place in the second semi-final against the undefeated Yanac Tigers.
The Horsham Jets and Kaniva Women were both playing for form in the lead into the finals and a single goal to the Jets’ Sophie Robinson, midway through the first half, was the only difference between the teams.
The second half saw solid play from both teams but neither could score again, and the Jets enter the finals with a win, but the Kaniva Women can also take some confidence into their first finals series since 2006.
The result of the game between the ladder leading Dimboola Roos and the sixth-placed Warrack Women mirrored their respective seasons. The Roos go into the finals as favourites for the premiership after a solid six-goal win.
Although it would not change the match-ups for the semi-finals, the Warrack Revengers had the incentive of finishing the season in top place on the ladder when they took on fellow finalists the Dimboola Kangaroos.
Two goals to Oskar Bennett, of the Revengers, matched goals by Teo Haines and Lachlan Geary, of the Kangaroos, for the game to finish as a draw. This draw earned the Revengers the title of minor premiers.
The Yanac Warriors were only playing for pride when they took on the dominant Nhill Leopards, but they fought out a solid game in which both teams showed good skills and teamwork, and although the Leopards took the points, they had to play at their best to overcome the tenacious Warriors.
In an ominous sign to the other teams, the Kaniva Raiders scored a comfortable six-goal win over the Horsham Bombers.
The Under 12 hockey competition concluded on Saturday.
Dimboola Kookaburras scored five goals when they defeated Warracknabeal.
The Kaniva Rampagers defeated the Horsham Blackhawks and the Yanac Lowan Stars and Nhill Bandits played out a scoreless draw.