Hockey: Redbacks end on sky-high note

SARAH SHAWSound Telegraph

The Rockingham Redbacks ladies first team are the Willow Bridge League premiers after beating Hale 3-2 in the weekend’s grand final at Perth Hockey Stadium.

Rockingham were underdogs going into the clash after finishing fourth on the ladder, while Hale led the competition for the entire season.

With nothing to lose, Rockingham had saved their best hockey for the finals matches, knocking Whitfords and Riverside Lions out of the running to secure their place in the grand final.

The crowd for Rockingham was an inspiration — a sea of red and black rising over the top of the hill overlooking the main turf at Perth Hockey Stadium — and the women were determined to do them proud.

Goals from Kim Thompson and Caitlin Wales put Hale under pressure, and brilliant defensive work from goalkeeper Nan Thomas and Sheridan Glenister denied Hale their expected victory.

Both teams started the match with an anxious energy, keen to apply pressure from the beginning.

An early breakaway for the Redbacks saw Kim Thompson with possession in the attacking circle. Under pressure, Thompson fired one past the ’keeper and gave Rockingham the first goal of the match.

Courtney Pickford was a key player for Rockingham, attacking the ball and forcing her team into attack.

But it was a sharp counter-attack from the Redbacks that saw Wales send the ball soaring past the Hale ’keeper to give Rockingham their second goal.

Hale were desperate to regain control, and a short corner gave them their first goal, with teams going into the half-time break at 2-1.

Rockingham were aware of their narrow lead in the second half, knowing Hale would fight until the final whistle.

Sheridan Glenister was a dominating force for Rockingham, challenging the Hale attackers and clearing the ball from the danger zone.

Numerous breakaways for Hale looked threatening, but Glenister put her body on the line and charged forward to stop the play.

A scramble in the defensive circle saw a ball raised into her brow, but Glenister played on and continued to dominate the defensive field.

A breakaway up the right wing aw Rockingham with another opportunity for goal, and a quick pass into the circle was picked up by Wales and fired into the backboard to give them the lead they wanted.

Hale were desperate for goals, and the final minutes of the match were frenzied as they forced the ball forwards.

Thomas was superb, saving an onslaught of desperate shots on goal in the final minutes of play, but conceding a goal within the final 10 minutes.

Rockingham threw all their players into a defensive field to protect their lead.

The Rockingham crowd erupted at the final whistle and the team began their celebrations, being the first from the club to qualify and win a Willow Bridge premiership.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails