Form vs experience meet in men’s hockey grand final

Perth Thundersticks to face off against Canberra Chill.
Perth Thundersticks to face off against Canberra Chill.

HALE and Wesley South Perth Hockey club, better known as WASPS, will contest the Hockey WA 2019 Men’s Premier One Grand Final at the Perth Hockey Stadium on Saturday after both teams managed to eliminate minor premiers Melville City.

WASPS will be playing in their fifth grand final in eight years and their supporters will be hoping that it will be a repeat of 2016, the only time they have been victorious.

Hale will be appearing in just their third grand final, having lost in extra time in 2007 and being crowned premiers in 2010.

Hale finished the league season in second place eleven points ahead of third-placed WASPS and, following their 5-3 victory over WASPS in the finals series, will head into this match as the favourites.

Not only will that result boost their confidence, but so too the fact that they have not lost to WASPS since 2017.

Liam Flynn from Hale won the Eric Pearce Top Goal scorer award on Monday night at the Hockey WA Awards for the third year in a row and he will be a player that WASPS will be extremely wary of.

Flynn has scored eight goals in the past three meetings, including all five in that finals victory.

Hale come into the final not having lost in the last six matches, coming from behind against Melville to earn a shoot-out victory and book their place in the grand final.

WASPS’ form has been up and down all season. When they have clicked they have brushed teams aside with ease, but when they have played poorly the opposition has scored heavily against them.

The form of both goalkeepers, Ben Rennie (Hale) and James Richardson (WASPs), in the finals series has been a key to both teams making it to the grand final and they too could have a say as to which team wins the ultimate prize.

Both teams have players under an injury cloud, with late announcements expected.

WASPS are hoping that Kookaburra Trent Mitton comes through a fitness test and Hale hopes that Alec Rasmussen may be cleared to play.

Kookaburra Matthew Swann will be a vital player for WASPS as they look to repel Hale’s potent attacking force.

Duncan Pearce, Brandon Gibbs and Daniel Rayney will be the link to the forwards in the midfield.

The veteran Murray McIntyre fired WASPS into the final with the winner against Melville.

Hale will miss the injured Blake Wallis at the back but have the experienced Justin Knapp to organize things defensively.

Former Kookaburra Tim Deavin and current Kookaburra Josh Beltz will look to run the midfield, with up and coming stars Josh Bowen, and Paul Gaudoin Youth Player of the Year Brayden King sure to play key roles for Hale.

The form book points to a Hale victory, but as everyone knows when it comes to a grand final, the book goes out of the window and it comes down to who performs on the day.

Catch all the live action of the Men’s Premier One grand final 2019 here.