SOUTH Newcastle will do battle with minor premiers Regals in the grand final of the Newcastle women’s premier league hockey after defeating last year’s premiers Central 6-2 in the preliminary final last Saturday.
Souths’ long-serving vice president Lee Hanley said she cannot recall the Souths team ever reaching a grand final and to have three teams playing next Saturday is making history.
The win by the Lions against Central, as the score indicates, was emphatic with teenage star Mariah Williams notching four goals as well as playing a major role in goals scored by Maddy Webster and Nicole Taylor.
Central’s goals came from captain Kasey Cocking and striker Gabby Purcell.
However, it was the outstanding defence of fullback Emily Yeoman that prevented Souths rampant forward line from scoring many more goals.
Souths welcomed the return of halves Georgia Sargent and Mel Howard as well as regular goalie Ashley Bailey.
All three played prominent roles in the win after missing the last competition game and the semi-finals through injury.
Their return to the side was vital as the Lions prepare for the title clash with Regals.
The form of strikers Williams and Webster and the Larkin sisters, Siobhan and Bailey and captain Tori Taylor was outstanding against Central and they will need to carry it through to this week’s season decider.
Souths were narrowly beaten 3-2 in an even semi-final two weeks ago against Regals and last Saturday looked to be peaking at the right end of the season.
The grand final looks to be an even money affair when the experience of Regals will be pitted against the speed and enthusiasm of the young Lions.
Regals will rely heavily on halves Teresa Blair and Melissa Geer to steer them around the park with strong offloads to strikers Michelle Mitchell, Cindy Peady, Katie Logan and Bre Price.
It will not be an easy task as Souths defensive line, led by Madeline Williams and Kodie Wakefield, has improved tremendously and has read and defended oppositions attacking plays well.
There is little doubt Regals will be planning their defence on stopping Mariah Williams and the Australian Junior World Cup squad member can expect some close double team marking.
But Williams does have strong attacking players to back her that could keep Regals fullbacks Sophie Robinson and Sarah Summers busy.
The pair have been reliable throughout the season, which has helped the minor premiers.
Mariah Williams shot at goal to score
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