Wanderers' Clinton McKay will look to control the game.
Wanderers' Clinton McKay will look to control the game. Allan Reinikka ROK220717ahockey1

FINAL PREVIEW: Reigning champs shooting for 13 in a row

HOCKEY: They featured in arguably one of the best A-grade men's grand finals last year, the result ultimately decided in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

On Saturday, Wanderers and Frenchville Rovers will go head-to-head again in the quest for Rockhampton Hockey's major prize.

Wanderers are chasing an incredible 13th consecutive title, while their rivals are looking to break a 46-year premiership drought.

Both camps are bracing for another fast and furious final, having played some hard-fought matches in the regular season.

The last time the two teams met, in the major semi a fortnight ago, the reigning champions ran out 5-1 winners but their player-coach Aaron Harmsworth knows Frenchville will be a much tougher proposition this weekend.

"They had a few guys out in that one so we definitely know they will be stronger this time around,” he said.

"It will be a very fast game. They're young and they're fit so it will be high-intensity. There certainly won't be any low patches; it will be full-on for the 70 minutes.

Wanderers' Aaron Harmsworth:
Wanderers' Aaron Harmsworth: "It will be full-on for the 70 minutes.” Chris Ison ROK040916chockey1

"It was a brilliant game last year and people will be expecting more of the same. Hopefully for our sake, it's not that close.

"We're travelling well. We've got a good mix of youth and experience, we're fully fit and we've got a full complement of players.”

Frenchville's key midfielder Jarrod Bass said he and his teammates were thrilled to have another shot at the title.

"Excited is probably the word that best explains it,” he said. "We're there again and we definitely give ourselves a chance with a full-strength side.

"If we execute our game plan there's no reason we can't come away with the win. We definitely have the firepower in our side to put Wanderers to the sword.”

Bass said his team had learned some valuable lessons and gained some self-belief from last year's agonising grand final loss.

He said it was important that his players did not get consumed by Wanderers' success.

"If we worry about how many titles they've won it will take away from our game. We just need to focus on what we need to do,” he said.

"We have to get into our rhythm early, and we're pretty confident our fitness will hold us in good stead at the back end of the game.

"It's going to be an attacking game of hockey, neither side is going to hold back.”

Frenchville Rovers' Jarrod Bass:
Frenchville Rovers' Jarrod Bass: "We have to get into our rhythm early.” Allan Reinikka ROK100916amhockey

Bass said that skipper Adam Bunn, star striker Tim Byrne and workhorse Sam Kydd, who had firmed up the centre midfield role with his impressive form in the back half of the season, would be vital to Frenchville's chances.

Harmsworth said controlling the tempo of the game and maintaining possession would be key, as would his players' leg work up front and their ability to pressure Frenchville's defence.

He said Wanderers' champion midfielder Clinton McKay would have a big influence on the game, as would Todd Harmsworth and young gun Cooper Johnson.

Wanderers have already won the Dunlop Trophy and the CQ League and Harmsworth is confident they can complete the season clean sweep and an unprecedented 13th A-grade premiership.

The club also has the chance to claim the A-grade double, with its women taking on Southern Suburbs, who are shooting for a three-peat.

FINALS DRAW

Rockhampton Hockey grand finals at Kalka Shades on Saturday

10am: A3 women, Park Avenue Brothers v Southern Suburbs

11.35am: A3 men, Park Avenue Brothers v Wanderers

1.10pm: A2 women, Park Avenue Brothers v Wanderers

2.45pm: A2 men, Wanderers v Southern Suburbs

4.20pm: A1 women, Southern Suburbs v Wanderers

6pm: A1 men, Wanderers v Frenchville Rovers



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