FINALS AWAIT: Josh Toole and his St Pat’s team-mates are out to make their final regular season game against Parkes a winning one today. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 041412ppats1HOCKEY
REGARDLESS of how the final round of the men’s Premier League Hockey regular season plays out today St Pat’s will finish as minor premiers, yet the blue and whites may still have an impact on the ladder.
Today at the Cooke Hockey Complex the Saints take on a Parkes side which currently sits in third and is hoping to stay there in order to earn hosting rights for the minor semi-final.
But if the Saints beat Parkes by a substantial margin and Souths upset Lithgow Panthers, Bathurst will play host to both semi-finals next Saturday.
St Pat’s coach Jaden Ekert knows the situation on hand, but will not be playing with a view to doing fellow Bathurst side Souths a favour.
The Saints will simply be concentrating on giving themselves the best possible lead in to the first grand final qualifier.
“We’ve now achieved our first goal for the season and there’s two to go, and we’ve managed that with a game in hand. That means we can try out some things and give some of the younger guys in the team a chance to play some more minutes,” Ekert said.
“Parkes will be treating this like a finals game. What do I expect from them? I’m honestly not too sure. What I do know however is that they have strong forwards and quick midfielders. It will be all about restricting their ball possession. If we hold it then they can’t score.”
Pat’s go in buoyed by a 6-2 win over the Panthers, a game Ekert said showed the flexibility of his squad.
“We went out with a game plan and we were on the attack for the 70 minutes. We played to a plan that we weren’t used to and hadn’t used before, but it was executed so well,” he said.
“To be able to shift players around in different positions and still get the results really helps to take the pressure off as a coach.”
Another milestone is on the cards for St Pat’s, who are just 13 goals shy of hitting triple figures in terms of goals scored. They have at least three matches to achieve that.
“To be able to achieve that in just the one season would be amazing, it’s something that’s virtually unheard of, but it’s an achievement that’s not obviously the focus for us,” Ekert said.
Matt Naylor returns this week along with Sam Macpherson, who missed the last two games playing with the triumphant NSW Country side at the Australian Country Championships. That pair will be welcomed given midfield workhorse Cameron Liles will be absent.
The match will get underway at 1.50pm this afternoon.
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