EARLY DEADLOCKS: A-Grade players from Norths and Swifts battle for the ball during the opening round of Ipswich hockey matches. Norths and Swifts drew 2-2 before new team Thistles held defending premiers Wests to a 5-5 deadlock on Sunday night. Picture: Rob Williams
EARLY DEADLOCKS: A-Grade players from Norths and Swifts battle for the ball during the opening round of Ipswich hockey matches. Norths and Swifts drew 2-2 before new team Thistles held defending premiers Wests to a 5-5 deadlock on Sunday night. Picture: Rob Williams

Why Thistles gave Jay double satisfaction

RETURNING from injury, Jay Pavitt endured an at-times nerve-racking doubleheader at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

The accomplished A-Grade player hopes that sets the tone for the rest of the 2020 season.

Pavitt lined up for Hancock Brothers in their hard-fought 4-3 season-opening victory over Wests on Friday night.

Having missed a number of matches last season with a left thumb setback, Pavitt enjoyed a workout in his first game back.

However, it was as a first-time Thistles A-Grade coach that he gained enhanced satisfaction.

Even without goal scoring ace Amy Kickbusch, state under-21 player Jordn Office and the experienced Amy Nicholls, Wests still had plenty of class. The core of this year's side has shared in the past four grand final victories.

The Thistles side Pavitt helped prepare for a top division comeback showed plenty of skill and determination in drawing 5-5 with defending premiers Wests on Sunday night.

"It was awesome to see that. The girls really played hard,'' Pavitt said.

"Wests are quality. They have been the benchmark for the last five or so years.

"I was a bit nervous the first time going into that but it was a really awesome result.

"I'm really proud of the way the girls played.''

After leading 2-1 through a stroke by captain Nicole Yearbury, Thistles were behind 4-2 before some third quarter magic by former Wests player Talicia Canty ignited a late surge.

Canty made a dashing run down the left wing before netting her goal from an acute angle.

"She's a workhorse,'' Pavitt said. "She's got some skill and speed and she can do anything.''

Experienced Wests player Jade Close had earlier scored two goals, along with Sarah Donnelly.

However, Thistles levelled at 4-4 and again at 5-5, after a great solo run by Jenna Southee, before holding out the Magpie assault.

Pavitt and Thistles club president Pauline Alchin had worked since late last season on recruiting players for Thistles' return to A-Grade.

They include players from Brisbane clubs Commercial and Saints, and promoting last year's Reserve Grade side.

Pavitt said goalkeeper Sophie Gaugg was another terrific pickup.

"There's a lot of experience in the team, which is awesome,'' Pavitt said.

They will guide the younger brigade like Kaya Roberts, Emma Newell and Olivia Chubb.

Easts also returned to the women's A-Grade competition at the weekend, losing 5-0 to Hancocks on Saturday night.

 

A Norths A-Grade player makes a break during her team’s 2-2 draw with Swifts at the Ipswich Hockey Complex. Picture: Rob Williams
A Norths A-Grade player makes a break during her team’s 2-2 draw with Swifts at the Ipswich Hockey Complex. Picture: Rob Williams

 

Norths and Swifts drew 2-2 in the third top division encounter.

As Easts settle into the higher grade, Thistles looked a competent unit on Sunday night's spirited effort.

"It should be a good comp in both men and women,'' Pavitt said.

"It's great to see women have six teams, especially once we join with Toowoomba (in the annual intercity competition).''