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Flames firing for 15th

Double team: Flames’ Julie Rodda has Rekunow sisters Tahlia (left) and Katrina (right) either side of her during an earlier meeting this year.Three years after they won their 14th, Flames will on Sunday be attempting to win their 15thTamworth womens first grade title.
Nanjing Night Net

Challenging them for it will be defending champions Waratahs.

It will be Waratahs third straight grand final. The first, incidentally, they went down to Flames 3-1 in what wasFlames’ last appearance in the decider.

They go into Sunday as favourites after finishing minor premiers and beating Waratahs in the major semi-final two weeks ago.

The blueprint won’t differ too much from that. It’s more a matter of just executingbetterin a few areas.

“Once again I think the midfield will be very important,” coach Barrie Pritchard said.

“I think we’ve also got to be a lot better in our deep defence than we were in the major semi-final.”

Particularly on Waratahs’ counter-attacks they need tobe closing down the channels and marking better.

Secondly they need to show patience moving the ball forward. That was probably Pritchard’s biggest frustration out of the semi-final.

The other thing he will be looking for is a bit more quality in the circle.

“We need to improve our quality around and in the circle,” he said.

They had about 13 short corners that last game and only scored off about three.

He felt the inclusion ofKim Resch, Naomi Sparkand Kate Ferguson this year had madea big difference.Julie Rodda is also playing much better hockey this year, he said. Tegan Smith has also been a goal-scoring machine and he’ll be counting on her to make a nuisance of herself in the circle.

“The girls have done really well to be minor premiers and win the major semi-final. We just need to back it up on Sunday,” he said.

“If they producea really good game they will be hard to beat.”

Waratahs were four seconds away from missing out on the grand final and, under no illusions about the task in front of them,know they have tostart better than what they did two weeks ago.

“We’ve got to get ourselves into the game from the get go,” coach Graeme McKenzie said.

“We also need to be deliberate in where we want to play them.We want to try and avoid them getting their key players in the game.”

They have tweaked things a bit from the major semi.

“We’ll be a slightly different structure to what we were two weeks ago,” he said.

“We’ve probably stiffened up the defensive line.”

Tayla King drops back into the defensive line after playing in the midfield last time round.

McKenzie again expects the midfield to againbe critical, as will the two circles.

“Itstill comes down to both ends of the field,” he said.

“Whether we can take the edge off their very strong attack and whether we can score goals.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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