Qld takes on NSW for country hockey's top spot
QUEENSLAND is set for a showdown with arch rival New South Wales to decide top spot at the Australian Country Hockey Championships this morning.
The two states are unbeaten in both the men's and women's divisions heading into today's last round of pool games at Clyde Park.
The women's teams have an especially poignant rivalry after NSW won its seventh-straight country title in a penalty shootout against Queensland last year.
Vice-captain Hannah Reid said the Queenslanders won't be short on motivation for what shapes as a grand final preview.
"No one needs any more motivation than playing for Queensland against New South Wales," she said.
"I think New South Wales have been playing fairly well so it'll be a good challenge for us to test ourselves a little bit."
Reid believed Queensland had come together well as a team which helped set up moments of individual brilliance as well.
They boast some strike power with Toowoomba players Brooke Thompson (six) and Kelly Gillard (five) the leading goal-scorers.
"We've got a good combination of some young girls who are quite talented as well as a lot of older girls who know when to settle the game down a little bit," Reid said.
"It's a good time to get those combinations going, and we've got some really great girls up front who are just amazing at scoring goals. It helps the whole team when we can score some goals."
While Reid was happy with her team's performances so far, she admitted they can't expect an easy passage through to the final.
"I think we've fairly dominated most of the games because we've held the ball fairly well," she said.
"But in saying that, we had a tough game against Victoria (Queensland won 3-2) who took it to us and gave us a bit of a scare.
"I think we've got a really good chance as long as we can make sure we get up for the games and we're ready to play."
Meanwhile, Queensland men's coach Nathan Hooper has ensured his players will be at their best following yesterday's rest day.
After a morning game of golf, Hooper organised an extra training session to fine-tune for today's clash with NSW.
"We're playing okay without being brilliant," Hooper said.
"We're very patchy, a bit inconsistent at the moment, which is a bit concerning.
"We're having an extra training session just to really try and tighten the guys up a bit."
Hooper was particularly concerned with Queensland's slow starts - the team has scored 12 of its 14 goals in the second half - but he believed their defence was strong enough to hold out NSW.
"Playing South Australia, we scored five goals in 10 minutes and the rest of the game it was nil-all," Hooper said.
"We're not starting very well, which is very concerning.
"The good thing is our defence has looked very, very solid."
- with DAVID LEMS