New captain's 'fun' hat-trick
HOCKEY: Newly-appointed Easts captain Tim Woodford led by example, having fun and scoring a hat-trick as the Tigers claimed a big scalp in their Ipswich A-Grade season opener.
Easts overran defending premiers Hancock Brothers 8-5 on Friday night to show they have plenty of goal-scoring options this season after missing out on last year's grand final.
Although the first A-Grade game of the new Ipswich season was "scrappy'', Woodford was pleased to be back playing.
It was the first year he had been appointed captain.
"I said to the boys after the game that was the most fun I've had in two or three seasons,'' Woodford said.
"I think that showed in the way we played and having a good time.''
Turning 30 this year after debuting in A Grade at 14, Woodford has been one of the Ipswich competition's most loyal and dependable players.
He's approaching his 500th game for Easts after starting his career with Hancocks and Bremer.
While cousin Chris Mantell is having a year off, Woodford was happy to see relatives Daniel and Adam Mantell keen to help out the top side as needed.
Having enjoyed the mateship of hockey for many years, Woodford was confident Easts would be in the mix this season having recruited some handy players from Toowoomba, Brisbane and the RAAF.
"I think it will be competitive,'' the energetic PE teacher said of this year's four-team competition.
"Even though we've got a few new additions, I still think we'll go pretty well.''
Among the players returning are Thom Millar, who gives Easts more attacking might in the forward line.
Other players boosting Easts this season are Brisbane newcomer Jimmy Easton and RAAFie Ryan Grosso, who played some games for the club last year.
With a series of Friday night and Sunday games expected to be scheduled in A-Grade, Woodford was hopeful the dual-registered players would be available regularly.
Woodford scored Easts' first two goals before adding a third in the second half.
"It was a scrappy old game being the first game and everyone was a bit short of a run,'' Woodford said. "But it was good to get some goals.''
After a seesawing battle early, Easts took charge leading 7-3 in the second half.
Easts play Norths in their next match on Sunday after the Devils surprised last year's grand final runners-up Wests 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.
In the women's A-Grade competition to launch a new season, Hancock Brothers accounted for Norths 4-0 and defending premiers Wests continued their impressive run from last season.
Former international player Amy Kickbusch netted four goals in Wests' 7-2 win over Swifts.
State of play
A-Grade men: Easts 8 (T Woodford 3, D Mantell 2, J Easton 2, R Grosso) d Hancock Brothers 5 (R Smith, C Chappell, J Willie, K Douglas, K Jackson); Norths 2 (J Dalais, N Maddocks) d Wests 1 (A Horrocks).
A-Grade women: Hancock Brothers 4 (A Eleison, R Clarke, K McNamara, S Butta) d Norths 0; Wests 7 (A Kickbusch 4, G Nicholls 2, J Wilkinson) d Swifts 2 (B McLean, A Stacey).