Waratahs favoured to win again
IT is one of the biggest challenges in Tweed sport - ending the Waratahs Bobcats' dominance of men's hockey.
That is what confronts the Murwillumbah Redbacks when the two teams meet in the grand final of the Tweed Border Hockey Association's men's division one decider this afternoon at the Barrie Smith Field in Murwillumbah.
Waratahs have been in 35 consecutive grand finals and, as the reigning premiers, know a thing or two about winning big matches.
This year has been a big season for them, winning the JH Williams competition and the minor premiership in the Tweed Border competition, and they will go into the match as favourites.
However, the Redbacks have battled their way to the grand final through the finals series and will be looking to make amends for last year's grand final loss to the Waratahs.
There's an added incentive for the Murwillumbah club - it is celebrating its 50th anniversary and for Redbacks' captain Ryan Farrell there could be no better present than a men's premiership win over their arch rivals.
“This is a rematch of last year's grand final and we have a point to prove,” Farrell said.
“Waratahs dominated us in that game 6-1.
“I know we are a much better side this year, with more experience under our belts.
“The boys have all been putting plenty into training and our commitment and desire is much better this year.
“I think last year we psyched ourselves out before the game - just being glad to be in a grand final - but this year we are more focused and know what's required.”
The Redbacks will need to be focused against a seasoned Waratahs side led by captain Tim Willis.
“It doesn't matter how many grand finals you play in, there's always an air of excitement around this time of the season,” Willis said.
“Each year brings new challenges, both for our team and our opponents, so you have to step up for the big matches.
“This year, I think we have been very consistent. Our win in the JH Williams competition was a great boost for the team and I think we have improved since then.
“We know Redbacks will be coming for us after we beat them last year, so our focus has been to try to keep our approach to the game as down-to-earth as possible and our game plan simple.
“The key to this match will be defence. If you get that right, it tends to set up everything else.
“It's crucial to be patient in games like this and keep to what we have talked about before the match.
“I'm expecting this to be a very close match and we should get a big crowd along.”
Waratahs have shown they are strong across the park in all positions and will test the Redback defence.
With a proud club history and plenty of support, the Burringbar side will be a handful for the young Redbacks outfit.
“Our side are nearly all under 24,” Farrell said.
“We have hit some good form towards the end of the season and have had some good matches against Waratahs this season, so we know what to expect.
“With some talented young players in our side, it's important to make the most of every opportunity we get.
“To get on the board early will be crucial for us if we want to claim the title.”
In another outstanding achievement for the Waratahs club, their men will contest all three senior grades on grand final day.
The men's division one grand final hits off at Barrie Smith Field, Murwillumbah, this afternoon at 4pm
In the lower grades, Waratah Cougars take on Pottsville in division two at 2.30pm and in division three Waratah Jags play Mullumbimby at 1pm.