Casuarina’s Margie Coleman and Waratahs Falcons’ Bobbie Philip in last year’s JH Williams grand final. The two teams will meet on Saturday in the 2011 JH Williams season-opener.
Casuarina’s Margie Coleman and Waratahs Falcons’ Bobbie Philip in last year’s JH Williams grand final. The two teams will meet on Saturday in the 2011 JH Williams season-opener. Crystal Spencer

Who can match winning Waratahs?

TWEED Border Hockey's JH Williams competition hits off this weekend and there are some exciting clashes in the first round in both the men's and women's competitions.

In the first women's encounter, reigning premiers Waratahs Falcons come up against Casuarina on Saturday in a replay of last year's JH Williams grand final.

This year will be a rebuilding year for Casuarina, with the club bringing through a lot of their junior girls up to Division 1.

The team have a core of more senior players in Kim Small, Margie Coleman, Louise Ferguson and Debbie Dolan, and it will be up to these players to guide the young ones in the top level.

They come up against a very experienced and well-drilled side in Waratahs for their first game of the season. It will be interesting to see how they will go. It should be a great battle of youth verses experience, and I think Falcons will be just to good on the day.

Falcons go into the season under the direction of Candis Henry and Amy Paron, who are both long-term members of the team after David Reading stepped down from the coaching job.

Meanwhile, Mullumbimby is back to full strength this season and are out to stamp their authority back in Division 1. Their campaign will start when they take on their nemesis from last season Kingscliff.

Mullum have picked up Samantha Johnston from United (unfortunately United were unable to field a competitive Division 1 women's side this year due to the loss of a number of key players), giving them more fire power up front, especially if Johnston and Shari East can connect. If Mullum can put in a combined effort and utilise their strength in defence and attack they should come away with a win. They will need to keep a tight rein on Lorelle Morissey from Kingscliff, who is always dangerous in attack.

In the opening men's clash, Murwillumbah take on Waratahs.

This should be a great contest with Murwillumbah up for the challenge after gaining the services of new signings Josh Edwards, Robbie Whitcher (formally from Mudgee) and Luke McMahon. McMahon, however, will be out for at least six weeks due to an ankle injury sustained last week.

Both teams should be evenly matched, but Waratahs' defence will have to be on their guard as Murwillumbah have some fast and sneaky forwards in Brendan Iwanuscha and Michael Hall.

Waratahs will look to Tim Willis and James Walker to control the game, while in defence they will be relying on Mitch Paron in goals to be on his game supported by Josh Alcorn in the backs.

Whichever team can convert on their attacking opportunities will be the one to get on top.

The game between Murwillumbah Redbacks and Kingscliff will be an interesting one.

The Redbacks return to Division one hockey after a year's break with a young and enthusiastic side, boosted with a couple of Casuarina players who have come on board after that side pulled out of the first division.

Coach Stuart Maloney will have his side ready for a big debut and will also offer guidance on the field as a player.

Kingscliff, last year's beaten grand finalists, are basically the same team. They were flogged by the Bobcats in that grand final and they will be out for a bit of revenge this year and to wipe away that embarrassment.

Kingscliff will get over the Redbacks on Saturday - they will be too strong for an inexperienced side returning to the first division.



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