State rivals do battle on Tweed

STATE of Origin action comes to the Tweed this weekend when the NSW Arrows and the Queensland Scorchers clash in an Australian Hockey League doubleheader in Murwill-umbah.

It is going to be a huge weekend for the sport and a major coup for the Tweed Border Hockey Association, attracting two top-class AHL sides to play their season-openers on the international turf at the Barrie Smith Fields.

Ironically the games have been set down as “home games” for Queensland despite being held in NSW, and after the Scorchers' visit to the Tweed for practice sessions two weeks ago, they will certainly have a fair share of support.

However Arrows coach Brenda Baker will be counting on state loyalties coming into play in terms of crowd support when her side runs out in the first match between the states today at 3pm (DST).

The Arrows had their first run at Murwillumbah yesterday, and Baker was looking forward to the clash.

“We have been training hard for three months now and the girls are eager to actually start playing,” Baker said.

“It's great to play Queensland in the opening round as they always produce strong games against us.

“The fact that there will be a State Of Origin component to the games will just add a bit of spice.”

The Arrows boast a side rich in experience, with only three girls in the squad not having played at the top level before.

“We have 12 players who have Australian representative experience, and that combined with a fair bit of speed in the side should give us an edge,” Baker said.

“In this competition, it's not only every game that counts but every half, and you have to take your chances when they present.

“It's great to be playing games like this in the country and giving regional areas the opportunity to see top-class hockey in person.”

Scorchers coach Des King was likewise looking forward to the matches, and believed having had the chance to practice on the field would benefit his side.

“We have a young side, but one with plenty of enthusiasm and one which likes to play at pace,” King said.

“Unfortunately Nicki Hudson has been ruled out due to injury, but Madonna Blight will step up. At 24, she is our second-oldest player.

“We need to start the season strongly, and the girls have worked very hard to be ready for this game.

“I think our edge is our midfield, and with striker Amy Korner in great form, this should be a great couple of matches.”

King said he thought the Scorchers had made an impression during their practice visit.

“Even though this is a home game for us and it's being played in NSW, I think we will have a good following behind us.”

WEEKEND PROGRAM

Saturday, February 28

(All NSW times) 8.30-10.30am: Junior Coaching Clinic and games for Under-11s and 13s

10am-10.45am: Coaching clinic with club coaches and Barry Voland

10.45am - 11.45am: Under-13 Girls - TBHA v Gold Coast

11.50am - 12.50pm: Under-13 boys - TBHA v Gold Coast

12.55pm - 2pm: Men's first grade - Waratahs v Coraki ( replay of last year's interdistrict grand final)

3pm: NSW Arrows v QLD Scorchers

Sunday, March 1

8am: Under-15 girls - TBHA v FNC

9am: Under-15 boys - TBHA v FNC

10am: Under-18 girls - TBHA v GC

11am: Under-18 boys - TBHA v GC

1pm: QLD Scorchers v NSW Arrows



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