DARREN Manson was left with mixed emotions in the first weekend of Ipswich senior finals.
After playing in the losing Easts Reserve grade team, Manson enjoyed seeing the A-grade side he coaches show their true Tiger spirit.
It could have been a winning double only for Easts Reserve graders conceding a last-gasp goal that sent the game into extra time.
But Manson accepted that's hockey.
His joy came from the Easts A-graders advancing to the preliminary final after eliminating Wests on Saturday night.
Having their key players back after weeks of disruptions, the Tigers were never threatened in their 6-1 win over the Magpies.
"It was really only last week and this week that we've had our full team,'' Manson said.
"That was a good win tonight, a lot of goals in poor conditions.''
Despite heavy rain, Easts managed goal doubles by Steve Bayliss and Tim Woodford, with brothers Chris and Daniel Mantell also finding the net.
The elimination final was over with Easts up 4-0 at halftime.
Goalkeeper Patrick Collingwood had a fine game.
Although Easts defence was a highlight, the Tigers looked particularly dangerous on the edge of the circle.
"Our corners worked well tonight and we just played nice and close,'' Manson said.
Manson was confident he would have his best team available for this weekend's preliminary final against Hancocks.
That included the return of David Llewelyn, who's been away with work.
But after playing in the earlier Reserve grade elimination final thriller, Manson could have been forgiven for being disappointed.
Norths won in penalty shoot-outs after scoring an equaliser in the last 15 seconds to force extra time.
"That was a good game,'' Manson said. "You have those close games.
"We had them at 3-1 up but we lost.
"I was keen for the A-grade guys. This is probably my last year with them so I want to do well.
"They are a good team, a good bunch of guys. They work well.''
As for Hancocks and Norths being in more consistent form, Manson was unconcerned.
"We are all around about the same. Anyone can still win on their day,'' he said.
"That's the main thing. Come out ready to go and with a plan.''
Easts have their chance to show that in Sunday night's preliminary final.