Bellbowrie captain Kiah Ahern (right) in action against Wests before she went off hurt.
Bellbowrie captain Kiah Ahern (right) in action against Wests before she went off hurt. Carl Groenewald

Bellbowrie threat to top Ipswich hockey teams

WITH hockey finals on the horizon, Hancock Brothers and Wests look headed for another major showdown in the Ipswich A-grade women's playoffs this year.

However, steady improvers Bellbowrie strengthened their grip on third spot after a gritty 2-2 draw against the Magpies at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday.

Coach Adam Spry was reluctant to rate it Bellbowrie's best result of the season after some other "reasonable'' performances.

However, he was pleased to see his club building and the A-grade team making solid progress.

"I'm not really fussed whether we make finals or grand finals,'' he said, keen to help Bellbowrie develop its youth and keep a team in A-grade.

"It's about being competitive and making little steps each game.''

Although Bellbowrie are yet to beat Wests or Hancocks, Spry backed his team to continue getting better.

"They are the benchmark Hancocks and Wests,'' he said. "Both of those sides are pretty on par so if we can compete with those, then we are happy.''

That was highlighted by Bellbowrie's past two efforts.

Before having chances to upstage Wests on Saturday afternoon, the Strikers only lost 2-1 to defending premiers Hancocks the week before.

Bellbowrie's determined defence against Wests was a feature with Spry praising goalkeeper Jade McDougall for a terrific job accepting her opportunity guarding the net.

Wests led 2-0 after two field goals from Eden Jackat.

However, Bellbowrie narrowed the gap when Taylah Munro scored before halftime.

The Strikers set up an exciting final 14 minutes after equalising from some great work by Storm Steyn.

Bellbowrie also battled hard in the second half after losing captain Kiah Ahern before the break. She left the field after copping a strike to the knee.

Spry is in his first year working with the Bellbowrie women after coaching the Ipswich under-18 boys at the state titles and the South West Queensland women in last month's Super League championships.

All three teams had a similar focus under the guidance of the former national league player.

"They've got recognise that it's time to nurture the young ones and give them opportunities,'' he said.

"If you keep the young ones involved, they will stick around and they will become the seniors, the new leaders later on.''

Spry said the side that held Wests to a draw on Saturday was close to Bellbowrie's best. He's enjoying the challenge.

"I love the game,'' he said.

"Whether it's coaching, playing or trying to umpire when I get a bit of spare time, as long as I'm involved in the game.

"It's not about sheep stations. It's about competing, a good even contest.''

Working in logistics in the army, Spry played AHL in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

But seeing teams like Bellbowrie develop gives him great satisfaction.

With experienced campaigners like Lyn Grulke, Sue Gregory and Ahern guiding the younger players, Spry is confident his side will flourish.

After Saturday's game, Spry also praised Erin Alchin.

"She's probably a player that's just starting to find her feet,'' Spry said.

"She's always got a lot of talent but this year I've seen her grow remarkably.

"She's got serious potential and really dangerous for us in the midfield.''

In the other A-grade women's games, Hancocks defeated Toowoomba Past High 2-1, Toowoomba Rangeville overpowered Norths Ipswich 6-0 and Swifts drew 0-0 with Toowoomba Newtown.