Semi-finals up in the air
IT'S HARD to know what to expect in tomorrow's semi-finals, because they are so different to every other round of the season.
The perfect example was two years ago when All Blacks rose from fourth to take the premiership. Anything can happen in a four-team competition.
Third-placed All Blacks are in a similar position this year as they face Arrows-Athletics in the sudden-death minor semi.
Their performance will be watched closely by Rovers and Cities, because they have the potential to snatch a victory from anywhere. Arrows-Athletics pose just as great a threat.
Give them an inch and they will take a mile. With the experience they have in their side it is important All Blacks don't let them jump ahead early, because it is hard to see them giving up a lead once they have it. Their defence is built on old-fashioned grit and determination, which in finals hockey is more valuable than gold.
A 7-2 result in the corresponding game last week would indicate that Cities have the wood on Rovers.
But the truth is, another goal to Rovers early in the first half last Saturday night could have led to a similar scoreline in their favour.
Cities are starting to fire again, but Rovers have enough belief to make them sweat.
The first 20 minutes promises to be among the best hockey Bundaberg will see this season, probably up a notch from what was a frenetic pace last weekend.
The real test will be for both sides to keep their cool after things overheated last weekend, but with a grand-final spot up for grabs I think each player is likely to second-guess themselves before they do something they regret.
Arrows-Athletics' women have endured better fortune than their men this year, but once again it is Cities they have to pass to earn a grand final spot.
Cities were not at their fluent best last week, but have slowly built form since falling short in the Premier League final.
Goals have come more freely from the Cities strikers, while their experienced defence remains solid.
They are still the team to beat but, like their men, can't afford to let their guard down.
Whatever happens it should be entertaining, but if you are keen to spectate, bring a blanket because the 8.40pm timeslot at Hinkler Park can be fairly brisk.