Three Bundaberg young guns were chosen in Queensland teams after excelling at the recent Hockey Queensland Under-13 Boys and Girls State Championships in Gladstone and Ipswich respectively.
Connor Castelli and Tully Dorgan (Qld Sabres), and Courtney Kendall (Qld Cinders), were selected, while Bridie Stehbens was selected as a shadow for the Cinders team.
The Bundaberg Girls claimed the Division 2 title, defeating Townsville I in an epic final 3-2 in sudden-death strokes after scores had locked together 2-all at full-time and also 2-all in the shoot-out after the regulation five shots each.
Goal-keeper Breanna Olive was the hero, saving Townsville’s sixth shot, while Bundaberg converted theirs to clinch a famous victory.
Courtney Kendall gave Bundaberg a perfect start in the decider with the opening goal in the second minute, but they were forced to come from behind after Townsville equalised six minutes later, then took the lead late in the third quarter.
Sophie Aitkenhead struck again for Bundaberg to draw level midway through the fourth term, but neither side was able to break the deadlock, sending to shots to determine a winner.
Bundaberg had started the tournament with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Cairns II, but bounced back to whitewash Toowoomba II 6-0 later in the day with a double to Courtney, and single goals to Silvana Powell, Sophie, and Ruby Potter.
They started day two with a 4-0 shut-out of Gold Coast II, with strikes by Silvana, Ruby and Sophie, before overpowering Gladstone 5-0 in their last Pool B game, with two more goals to Sophie, and one each to Courtney and Stella Dwyer.
In the semi-finals, the Rum City pipped the previously unbeaten Brisbane IV 1-0 with Sophie scoring yet again in the 18th minute, and the rest is history.
Sophie, who scored in every game, finished with eight across their six games to be equal-second on the Goal Scorers’ list behind Townsville I’s Annie Dixon (14), while Courtney racked up seven.
The team was coached by Courtney’s mother Sue, while one of her sisters, Hailey Kendall, was awarded the Kim Thomasson and Julie Ashton-Lucy Young Aspiring Umpire Award.
Hailey was also allocated to umpire the Division 1 Grand Final.
The Bundaberg Boys wound up 11th in Division 1 after a Hamish Cook goal was enough to secure them a 1-0 victory over Townsville in their play-off match.
Bundaberg tried hard throughout but had a tough carnival, starting with a 6-0 loss to Cairns I, before also being beaten by Ipswich 4-0, Mackay I 2-0, and Brisbane I 3-0, and Sunshine Coast 4-0 in their Pool A matches, then being edged out by Gold Coast I 1-0 in their cross-over game.
All players will be in action for their clubs when Bundaberg Hockey fixtures continue at Hinkler Park this weekend.
In the Men’s competition, most interest will be on the clash between Arrows/Athletics and Rovers/Raiders at 2 pm tomorrow, with the other two games being intra-club duels between the two Waves Cities sides at 3.20 pm, and the two All Blacks’ outfits at 6 pm.
There is one Division 1 Women’s match tonight with All Blacks taking on the struggling two-times defending premiers Cities at 7.40 pm, before tomorrow, Cities back up against the red-hot Raiders/Rovers at 4.40 pm, and All Blacks take to the field against Arrows at 7.20 pm.
Past Brothers will now host their must-win last-round clash with Wests Panthers in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership tomorrow at 5pm.
The game was moved from Salter Oval following the heavy rain over the past few days, to protect the very wet surface from being churned up ahead of the Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys NRL clash there on Sunday 7 August.
That is the only A Grade game to be played in Bundaberg tomorrow, with the other matches to be fought out simultaneously.
The Minor Premiership will be decided in a winner-takes-all top of the table showdown between leaders Waves Tigers and Hervey Bay Seagulls at Stafford Park.
Wests will finish fifth, regardless of the outcome of their duel with Brothers, but the Brethren will secure third place and a double-chance in the finals if they are victorious.
If they lose, Easts Magpies will almost certainly grab the vital No. 3 position from them, as the Magpies will be expected to put whipping boys and back-to-back wooden spooners Wallaroos to the sword at Eskdale Park.
The Tigers mauled the Seagulls 48-10 during their nine-game winning streak when they last met on June 25, but Hervey Bay coach Jacob Blanke is not concerned about that result as they had a string of their big guns missing in that match.
Waves will be hoping to bounce back after having their bubble burst in a big way by Brothers 40-18 last week.
They have made just two changes to their team, with workaholic second rower Coby Gibbs and interchange forward Nic Samra replacing Jake McLennan and Aaron Flanagan.
Two-times defending champions Brothers have been inconsistent all season, but if they can repeat their second-half performance against Waves last week when they ran away with it after scores had been level at 12-all at the break, they could be too strong for the Panthers.
Coach Andrew Hamilton and inspirational captain and front rower Kevin Sherriff are certain to have their troops fired up to come out all guns blazing.
The Blue and Whites have beaten the Panthers in their two meetings so far in 2022, 36-26 in the season-opener on March 26, but only 28-26 on June 25 when both teams scored five tries.
That was the start of a four-game losing-streak for Wests, subsequently also going down to Waves 30-22, Hervey Bay 60-0, and Easts 26-22, and coach Corey Tanner will be looking to build some form and confidence to take into a sudden death finals’ campaign and, at full-strength, they can match any side.
Easts trounced Roos 56-19 back in the first round, but while they had to settle for a 14-all draw with them, also in Maryborough, on June 25, last year’s beaten grand finalists have returned to form with a hat-trick of wins, against Hervey Bay 20-18, Brothers 26-16, and Wests last week.
The sky is the limit for them, while the season end cannot come quickly enough for the beleaguered Roos.
In the Northern Districts Men’s Premiership, confirmed minor premiers Miriam Vale Magpies will be hoping to continue their rich vein of form when they host the resurgent Avondale Tigers in the last round at Gary Larson Oval tomorrow at 1.30pm.
Then at 3.15 pm, reigning premiers South Kolan Sharks, who forfeited against the Magpies last week, will hopefully be able to field a team for what promises to be a good duel with Gin Gin Hawks, who drew with them 42-all in a game dominated by attack when they last squared off on July 3.
In the Women’s League Tag, Agnes Water Marlins may need some divine intervention if they are to stop the Gin Gin Hawkettes juggernaut at 12.15 pm.
Wrecking Ball will be chasing back-to-back Lindsay Australia Bundaberg Gold Cup wins for his champion local trainer Darryl Gardiner when he contests the $17,000 race on what is certain to be a wet Thabeban Park track tomorrow.
The eight-year-old gelding, which boasts five wins, one second and one third from eight starts on the track, will again be ridden by star apprentice Rebecca Wilson, who rode him to a famous victory last year, and he rises just 3.5kg in weights on that race and will carry only 56.5kg after Rebecca’s claiming allowance.
Gladstone raider Svindal, which is in good form, including a win over Wrecking Ball on his home track on June 25, will carry topweight of 60.5kg and will be hard to beat on track debut.
The Pat Duff trained three-year-old Dare to Share, which won a Class B at his only Bundaberg start so far on September 4 last year, is a rising star, but he is unknown over the tough 1380m course, having not won beyond 1170m.
The other feature race, the Haifa Lightning Handicap over 850m, is a lottery, but 11-year-old topweight Hard Stride, a winner of 17 of his 110 starts and over $796,000 in prizemoney, should take a power of beating despite humping topweight of 64kg, after being runner-up to 2021 Lightning victor Mountain Courage at his only previous trip to Bundaberg in May last year.
Pat Duff has strong claims with last-start Gympie winner Jeno in the Higgins Coatings Benchmark 50 Handicap, while Nanango trainer Glenn Richardson could clinch a double with Foxy Five (Integrated Packaging Group Maiden Plate) and Sherwood Prince (Incitec Pivot/Rivulis QTIS Benchmark 60), and Sunshine Coast trainer Krystle Johnston is favoured to get the money in the Nufarm/Visy Class B with the promising Craiglea Agena.
Gary O’Donnell scored all four goals as Bingera notched a predictable 4-1 victory over SC Corinthians in their Football Queensland Premier League Wide Bay Men’s catch-up game on Tuesday.
The Superstripes also prevailed 3-2 over Corinthians in the Women’s League.
There are no matches in the WB Men’s division in Bundaberg this Saturday, with Corinthians, Across The Waves and Bingera away to Granville, Fraser Flames and Sunbury Blues respectively.
In the WB Women’s League, Waves and Bingera are away Friday to the Flames and Blues respectively, while Saturday, UPE will do battle with Tinana at Martens Oval at 2pm, and Diggers hit the road for their date with United Warriors.
After getting their season on track with back-to-back wins over Bay Power, hosts Across The Waves Eagles will be desperate to also topple cross-town arch-rivals Brothers Bulldogs in the last time they will meet in the AFL Wide Bay Marquis Macadamias Men’s Premiership round at Frank Coulthard Oval at 3pm Saturday.
The Bulldogs have beaten the Eagles in their four clashes so far this season, 9.7 (61) to 5.1 (31) on April 9, 10.10 (70) to 7.5 (47) on April 29, 9.12 (66) to 3.2 (20) on June 22, and 7.14 (56) to 2.9 (21) on July 8, and they will be fired up to bounce back after two straight losses to the all-conquering Hervey Bay Bombers.
Power will host the Bombers in the Hervey Bay Derby in the other match of the round.
Congratulations to the Bundaberg Open, Masters and Under-17 teams which won their divisions of the Central Premier League at the last round of the competition in Biloela last weekend.
Bundaberg was also represented by a second Under-17 team which also did well to finish in the top four.
Locally, with four rounds to go in the Warren Family Homes Premierships, Division 1 action returns to the Super Park tomorrow, with Brothers Hurricanes taking on Waves Gold in a top of the table shoot-out at 5pm, followed by an all-Blue affair between the Waves and Alloway teams of that colour at 6.30pm.
Bouldercombe trainer Darren Taylor continued his Bundaberg run of success by claiming another race-to-race-to-race winning treble at this week’s meeting at Thabeban Park.
He was successful with outsider and veteran My Bro Breach ($11) in the Mixed 4th/5th Grade, and favourites Mia Magic ($1.45), which completed four wins in a row in the Mixed 3rd/4th Grade, and Why Harmony ($3.10) in the Mixed 2nd/3rd Grade.
Four District trainers were also among the winners on the day, Paul Burgess with Wildash Ruby in the Sky Racing Maiden, Tom Lowe with Orson Alison in the East End Hotel Maiden, Narelle Mulcahy with rank outsider Chase Me Candy ($26) in the Novice Non-
Penalty, and Lindsay McCarthy with Sholto, which snapped a nine-race losing streak in the Sky Racing 5th Grade Heat.
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