UNDERDOGS ARE HUNGRY

!AN older, wiser Waratah Falcons outfit will go head to head with Casuarina in the Tweed Border Women's Hockey grand final at Murwillumbah tomorrow.

The two protagonists met in the grand final last year with Casuarina claiming the premiership.

The star-studded side will again line up as favourites at Barrie Smith Hockey Field from 4pm but the Falcons, beaten by Kingscliff in the 2005 decider, are confident they now have the firepower to upset their more-fancied rivals.

"The girls are very enthusiastic and have been looking forward to it ever since they won through to the final two weeks ago," Falcons coach David Reading said.

"We lost 2-1 to Casuarina last year. But we were down 2-0 and then came back.

"And we are much better team than we were last year. The girls have matured a lot and worked extremely hard.

"They have been training for this since back in January. "There has been a lot of preparation and effort put in, it would nice to see that rewarded.

"But we realise we have a tough challenge ahead of us ... they have the ultimate blend of youth and experience." The Casuarina line-up is bristling with representative stars.

Among the starters are former Australian representatives Melanie Woosnam, Kim Crane, Kim Small and Sharon Buchanan. Former top-line player Margie Coleman is mentor and coach to the side while Queensland Country goalkeeper Hope Miller linked with the side this season.

joining Australian Country representative Debbie Dolan in the talented squad. Casuarina's youngest players have started to make their presence felt with teenager Hannah Raftery named as a shadow player in the Queensland under-21 team.

But despite Casuarina's long honour role, Reading refuses to concede. while Casuarina With stars like this - who fit together well and are also versatile with many able to play anywhere on the park - Falcons know they have a battle ahead of them. Not that they aren't without stars of their own. "(Falcons striker) Ebony Philip was in the Queensland Country team this year and I am certain if some of our players had made themselves available for selection then they could have made the step up too," Reading said. "We are ready for Casuarina and quietly confident.

"But this will be tough and I expect there to be nothing in it."

Grand final action starts at 9am tomorrow with the junior games going right through the day to include the division three and two matches before the main event at 4pm. On Sunday, the focus turns to the men's competition with a full day of finals action.

In the main preliminary final, Mullumbimby will play Casuarina with the winner to take on Waratahs in the grand final on September 16.



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