SHOWDOWN: Bryce Hitchcock and his Souths side are out to spring an upset today when they travel to take on the Lithgow Panthers. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 080214cmhoky4bHOCKEY
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SOUTHS will be thankful their men’s Premier League Hockey finals place is already secure given their last task of the regular season is to face defending champions Lithgow Panthers in Lithgow today.

Lithgow may lost some of their intimidating aura after a pair of defeats to St Pat’s in which their normally stern defence leaked a number of goals, but Souths are yet to get the better of the Panthers in 2014.

They know all to well the danger of underestimating a team which has dominated the men’s league since its inception.

Still, Souths also know they are capable of upsetting the Panthers. One of their strongest performances of the season came in July when posting a 3-all draw at home against the premiers.

Though they are assured a place in the minor semi-final, Souths have reason to aim for the win today as it could give them a home ground advantage for that do-or-die match.

If Pat’s continue their rampant ways and defeat currently third placed Parkes, then a Souths upset today could do the trick. A seven-goal turnaround is the other requirement.

Souths coach Kent Bestwick isn’t too fussed about where the minor semi-final will be played and just wants to see his side be competitive.

At the same time, he said his team doesn’t have to just settle for that.

“It’s going to be a great match for our own game. It will get the boys back into playing some hard hockey. We’re hoping that maybe we can get a draw, but I’m confident that we can get a win if we play properly,” he said.

Souths are coming off a hard fought 1-all draw against the Orange Wanderers last Saturday.

That result was enough to end the Wanderers’ finals chances and at the same time cemented Souths in the top four with a week of the regular season in hand.

Bestwick said that although the draw was enough to take some pressure off this week, the match wasn’t a shining example of his side’s capabilities.

“One thing that would have helped is learning how to trap. Out of a 100 passes I’d say that we trapped three of them. I say it week-in and week-out, but you’ve got to make it a point that basics are what win games,” he said.

“We normally have a really good game against Lithgow and we’re always in the contest. If we get that early goal and manage to put the pressure on them then we can win.

“It’s all back to square one now. I’m confident that St Pat’s will be making the grand final, but I would love it for us to be there as well and I think we can do it.”

Dylan Smith remains the only absentee for Souths today, still in Queensland after his NSW side’s win at the Australian Country Championships.

Souths will take on Lithgow Panthers from 2.40pm today.

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