Two-horse race for hockey title

AFTER missing out on the CQ Extended League premiership, the Meteors and Sparks A1 men's hockey outfits now find themselves in a two-horse race for the local title.

The pair meet in the first of several head-to-head clashes ahead of this year's Gladstone and District Hockey Association grand final when they play at Rigby Park today at 3.40pm.

Meteors coach Brett Ryan will have to lift his side, particularly the younger players, who need to put any lingering disappointment over last weekend's Extended League semi-final to CQU Wanderers behind them, if they are to beat Sparks today.

Sparks, meanwhile, will have a point to prove after missing the CQ finals and will be buoyed by a last-start 2-0 victory over Meteors last month.

Meteors will look for big performances from the likes of Craig Mathison, Scott Dawes, Shannon Bobart, Mitch Ryan, Darren Heard and Tim Sheppard today while Sparks' chances of sucess would be boosted by big games from Dean Gorda, Jason Burns, Allan Baxter, Gary Porteous and Warwick and Nathan Smith.

The other two clashes between the sides this year have resulted in a 3-1 win to Meteors in June and a 1-1 draw in April.

Meteors will double up in GDHA women's competition today but, rather than a deterrent, the side seems to thrive on the challenge of having to back up for a second game ? a challenge which has left their opponents feeling the pinch.

With players of the calibre of Jill Mathison, Sue Rayner and Bianca Nathan dominating proceedings, coupled with youngsters Jami Long, Jo Homann, Sam Barnett and Amanda Rose, Meteors appear headed for back-to-back premierships.

However, the likes of Sparks' Angela and Meghan Jeynes, Julie and Candice Etherton and Hayley Moran and Souths' Karen Graham, Leanne Steele, Kim Lowry and Symone and Tahnee Jenkinson will ensure Meteors have to work for any victories. Meteors take on Souths at 1pm, followed by Sparks at 5pm.

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