By KATE ALLMAN
There is just one finals place up for grabs in the women’s competition which will be decided in a must-watch clash tonight.
Kookaburras brothers Kieran and Blake Govers will finally face off on Saturday, and the Adelaide Fire have a chance to make history if they can upset the undefeated Pride. Meanwhile, two franchises are racing to be the first engraved on the One Hockey Cup.
Here are the biggest stories to watch in Round 7.
HC Melbourne and Canberra Chill fight for finals spot
The highly anticipated final round of the JDH Hockey One League hits off with a do-or-die clash between Hockey Club Melbourne and Canberra Chill Women in Melbourne on Friday night.
With three teams already locked in for finals in the women’s league (Brisbane Blaze, NSW Pride and Perth Thundersticks), it is between HC Melbourne and the Chill on who will take the fourth ticket to Canberra next weekend.
The Chill, who currently sit fourth, can hold on if they achieve a win or any iteration of a draw – shootout win or shootout loss. With the Chill Men’s team out of finals contention, the women will be desperate to secure a spot to play in front of home crowds next Saturday. Meanwhile, HC Melbourne need nothing less than an outright win to progress to finals.
HC Melbourne were the minor premiers of 2022 and many fans expected the black and gold to go deeper this year with a likely grand final in their sights. Unfortunately, the team’s inability to convert in the scoring circle has plagued their season. HC Melbourne have scored just six goals so far while the Chill have found the net 14 times.
Adding further pressure, HC Melbourne are without star Amy Lawton and her sister Josie, who are both part of the Jillaroos Junior World Cup squad hitting off on 30 November in Santiago, Chile.
HC Melbourne and Adelaide Fire men keeping the spark alive
In the men’s match preceding the women on Friday, HC Melbourne are in with a shot at playing next weekend if they can win outright over Canberra, and either Adelaide Fire or Perth Thundersticks lose later in the weekend. The Fire play the NSW Pride on Saturday, so this is a real possibility.
Melbourne men have not been to a Hockey One League final since the inaugural season in 2019 where they were sent packing by NSW Pride in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Adelaide Fire Men have never reached finals and until this season, had not won a game. They won their first-ever match in Round 2 and snuck an upset win over the Tassie Tigers last weekend to keep the spark of a finals berth alight.
Govers brothers do battle
It’s the match-up we’ve been waiting for all season. Former Kookaburra Kieran Govers (who is playing for the Adelaide Fire this season) will line up against his younger brother Blake on Saturday.
Both products of the Illawarra/Wollongong hockey talent cauldron, the Blake brothers boast impressive resumes in the international arena. Kieran debuted for Australia in 2010 and played 126 matches with 60 goals for Australia, before briefly crossing over in the national squad with his brother for the final two years of his career. Kieran has been a powerful presence in the midfield for Adelaide but has not yet hit the scoreboard.
Blake is the third-highest goal scorer in the men’s league of Hockey One, with six goals from three games. He also has a stunning game-to-goal ratio internationally, with 149 appearances for the Kookaburras and 135 goals.
If the Fire can pull off a win, they will halt what would be an historic undefeated season for the Pride. Instead they might have a shot at writing their own history into finals.
Last shot at One Hockey Cup
NSW Pride and Brisbane Blaze are in a neck-and-neck race to be the first club engraved on the inaugural One Hockey Cup.
New in 2023, the One Hockey Cup is awarded to the club with the best combined performance over the regular season. Currently, the Pride and Blaze both sit on 20 points at the top of the ladder – with NSW one point ahead on goal difference.
The final standings will come down to this weekend’s results. NSW clinching the cup would add to the Pride’s dominant legacy of double premierships in 2022, with a good chance of going back-to-back on both this year.