VITAL ROLE: Senior Easts player Daniel Mantell made a welcome return to the Tigers on Sunday night.
VITAL ROLE: Senior Easts player Daniel Mantell made a welcome return to the Tigers on Sunday night. David Nielsen

Tigers keen to regain winning roar

EASTS coach Adam Spry is as calm as they come. Little worries the experienced hockey mentor, even when his teams are battling through a rough patch.

That's why this year's Tigers' A Grade coach already has one eye on the fast-approaching Ipswich competition finals.

After Easts dominated the early part of the season, they have come back to the field in recent weeks with players out and as other teams have stepped up.

But Spry was far from concerned, although happy the Tigers held out Wests 4-3 in their latest game on Sunday night.

"There's always room for improvement but the boys played all right,'' he said.

"We're going okay.''

While finishing top two is a major goal for many teams, Spry sees an advantage in coming from third or fourth if the team is peaking.

"If you are in that bottom two, you get that extra game regardless,'' he said.

"I'm really excited. It's a very good competition this year.

"It's going to be pretty fast and strong defence on the ball.

"You've just got to focus on the game really.''

The return of senior player Dan Mantell in Sunday's match was welcome.

"We've had a lot of injuries and a few players in and out so it's made a bit of a difference through that patch where we had a few losses but we're starting to get everyone back on deck now,'' Spry said. "So we should be heading into finals, hopefully in good form.''

Mantell played his first game in six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury.

"He was a little bit out of touch but hopefully he gets his touch back for the finals,'' Spry said.

Other Easts' players ill or injured in recent weeks include Spry's son Tyler and Josh Jones.

Regular strike weapon Tim Woodford scored a double with striker Steve Bayliss and midfielder Ryan Grocott also finding the net.

Wests' goal scorers were Matt Westphal, Andrew Horrocks and Greg Walker.

Spry was happy with Easts' defensive effort against Wests, coming from behind to score a fourth goal with about 10 minutes left.

"All the teams are really capable of scoring goals really quickly so you've got to be smart and strong about defence otherwise you're going to get hurt,'' he said.

"The pleasing thing for me was we didn't start well last night but we stuck to the task. Once we got our defence sorted out, the rest of our game was pretty good.''

State of play

A Grade men: Hancock Brothers 2 (R Smith, H Michel) d Norths 1 (Z Profke); Easts 4 (T Woodford 2, S Bayliss, R Grocott) d Wests 3 (M Westphal, A Horrocks, G Walker).

A Grade women: Norths 2 (J Fox, M Leeder) d Bellbowrie 0; Wests 2 (E Jackat, A Kickbusch) d Hancock Brothers 0.