TACKLE TIME: Easts defender Chris Mantell tackles Norths striker Dean Jeffrey during Saturday’s A-grade match at the Ipswich Hockey Complex. Easts won 4-1.
TACKLE TIME: Easts defender Chris Mantell tackles Norths striker Dean Jeffrey during Saturday’s A-grade match at the Ipswich Hockey Complex. Easts won 4-1. Sarah Harvey

Rep duty priority before Ipswich fixtures hot up

EASTS gained a handy three points in beating defending A-grade premiers Norths 4-1 in their grand final rematch at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

However, both coaches agreed a more accurate measure of Easts and Norths' 2013 title credentials would come later in the season.

A number of players from both clubs are preparing to represent Ipswich at the open state titles later this week.

"It wasn't the greatest but we're far from stressed," last year's Norths premiership-winning coach Jamie Burns said.

"We (Norths) haven't been training that hard lately.

"A lot of the boys have a lot of Ipswich commitments and that. Once Ipswich is all out of the road, we'll start focusing a bit harder."

New Easts coach Darren Manson said his competition-leading team was in a similar situation.

"We still had a couple of players out (David Llewelyn and Thomas Bushnell) so that made it a bit more pleasing," Manson said. "It was just a good hit-out, the first time we've played them.

"When all this Ipswich stuff is out of the way, I think that will be good."

Manson has switched from a player/coach at Wests to full-time coach at the Tigers this season.

"We're going quite well," he said.

"The game we lost to Wests, we had four of our top-line players out but I was still pretty pleased with the effort. We've got a good squad. We haven't played our best hockey yet."

After an earlier washed out game against Norths, Manson was pleased to have Daniel Mantell and Brenton Sippel back and regulars like Steve Bayliss, Tim Woodford and goalkeeper Andrew Woodford working hard. "That's pretty timely as Andrew is going away with the Ipswich side this weekend," Manson said.

"Timmie always gives 100 percent and every game, Stevie plays pretty well. He's pretty consistent."

Burns was unconcerned about the loss, missing the dangerous Tobia Figura, goalkeeper Kyah Andrew-Sharrad and some other Brisbane competition regulars.

With the annual Ipswich-Toowoomba competition also about to start, Burns is about to lose regular A-grader Brent Blake with a new job.

However, he's been encouraged by the efforts of young player Luke Haley and the centre half efforts of Will Dalais.

"He's gone up another step this year," Burns said. "He looks more mature out there.

"We're not travelling too bad.

"I haven't had a full team all year either yet."

In the other A-grade men's match, Hancock Brothers drew with Wests 4-4. Adam McClelland scored four goals for Hancocks.

Swifts continued their unbeaten run in the women's A-grade competition, beating Wests 5-0. Norths drew with Thistles 1-1 and Hancock Brothers beat Bellbowrie 4-0.

State of Play

A-grade men: Easts 4 (M Llewelyn, L Smith, D Mantell, T Miller) d Norths 1 (N Maddocks); Hancock Brothers 4 (A McClelland 4) drew Wests 4 (N Hooper, G Walker, B Nicholls, B Thomas).

Latest points (after five games): Easts 8, Norths 7, Wests 7, Hancocks 5.

A-grade women: Swifts 5 (K Bennett 2, K Nicholls, D Casey, K Schneider) d Wests 0; Norths 1 (S Sue) drew Thistles 1 (S Jeffreys); Hancock Brothers 4 (Elyse Smolenski 3, A McDermott) d Bellbowrie 0.

Points (after five games): Swifts 15, Hancocks 12, Norths 7, Wests 6, Bellbowrie 3, Thistles 1.