Sparks firing up as business end nears
HOCKEY: It will be a big few weeks in the Central Queensland Hockey League as men's and women's teams from Gladstone and Rockhampton jockey for positions as the finals approach.
The Sparks' men recorded an impressive 8-1 win against Park Avenue Brothers at the weekend as they prepare for a challenging encounter against Southern Suburbs.
Sparks are entrenched in the top four and have the chance to cement a finals berth with a win against the third-placed Southern Suburbs this Saturday from 3.50pm in Rockhampton.
Sparks' state junior representative Ronan McGuire, Australian Country player Josh Baxter and Australian Masters' gun Joel Helmstedt were in fine form against Brothers with six goals between them and utility player Harley Jeynes said the team has faced adversity throughout the season.
But with just two minor rounds remaining ahead of the two-week finals series, Jeynes said the Sparks are nearing their best form.
"We have been struggling all year with injury, but the last three weeks we had a full deck on board and it's starting to show,” he said.
"We have had three good wins in a row and we have fought our way back from bottom of the table.”
Jeynes added that all of the players have improved and admitted his own form has not been to where he would like it.
"My own form has been a bit below par, but the last few weeks we have all stepped it up as a team,” Jeynes said.
He added it will be a challenge that needs to be met against Southern Suburbs.
"Suburbs are strong and if we play against them like we did last game, then we can certainly match them,” Jeynes said.
"We need one more win to make sure that we play finals.”
Meanwhile, it is desperate times for the Meteors side, which sit in fifth spot on the ladder and just one position below Sparks.
Coach Neil Pease is looking for continuity in that he hopes stability with player availability starts this weekend against the bottom-placed Park Avenue Brothers.
"After playing multiple weeks without all of our regular core players on board, Meteors are looking to get back to playing the way we did at the start of the season,” Pease said.
"Finding each other with the ball and making the important passes stick.”
The Sparks' women are in a dog fight with three other teams for a spot in the top four.
Sparks suffered a 2-1 loss against Park Avenue Brothers last weekend and the loss has pushed the Gladstone team further down the ladder.
Brothers are one point ahead of Sparks with Meteors in equal fourth spot behind the third-placed Frenchville.
The first week of the finals will be at Gladstone's Rigby Park Fields on July 29 where all four teams play off for a grand final berth.
First play the fourth-ranked team and the second and third-ranked do battle against each other. The question is what teams they will be.