OVER the last 10 years no side in the men’s Premier League Hockey competition has come from third place to win the grand final, but this Saturday Souths plans on changing that.
Having survived two weeks of sudden death hockey, Souths has earned a spot in the 2017 decider alongside Lithgow Panthers in Lithgow.
Those two victories – a 6-3 result against Lithgow Zig Zag and 6-1 victory over minor premiers St Pat’s – has seen Souths not only build momentum, but confidence.
It has filled Souths’ coach Ray Winwood-Smith with the utmost faith his players can get the job done on Saturday.
“We started the year very slowly, we didn’t start as well as we should have which put us on the back foot early in the year. But I’ve always had the belief we could win the comp, there was no problem with that,” he said.
“It was about sorting out new players, trying to change the system and with the stop-start season, it took us a little while to get that momentum.
“We’ve fine tuned it now to the point that over the last two weeks, I’ve been extremely happy with how we’ve played. We’ve been executing well and the guys understand what we have been trying to achieve, which makes it easier.
“I really believe if Panthers were watching last week’s game, they’d be sitting back going ‘How do we go about beating these guys?’, and that’s what I want.
“I want them to be worried about us, we are not worried about them. It might sound a bit arrogant, but I definitely believe we have the team to challenge them strongly and win the grand final.”
Souths will have a full strength side at its disposal for the decider, with NSW Waratahs representative Nick McEwen confirming he is available.
He adds to the attacking prowess of the two blues, who will be looking to beat Panthers for the first time this year. Souths lost the regular season meetings 8-2 and 7-1.
“Something we’ve struggled with all year has been scoring goals, but the last three games we’ve scored nearly 20 goals and it’s been shared across a number of people,” Winwood-Smith said.
“The best form of defence is attack and we are certainly scoring a lot of goals.
“We are sharing the goal scoring, there are great combinations there and we are not relying on one person. Our short corners are being executed extremely well – across the whole field we have ticked all the boxes.
“There’s a real upbeat tempo in the team as we are probably playing some of the best hockey that I know of, in a long time. Last weekend showed that and everyone is in a good frame of mind.
“For us it is a simple objective. You run with them for the first 15 minutes, you put them under pressure, not allow them to put you under pressure, then you turn it around on them.
“We’ll attack and push them as hard as they push us.”
Saturday’s grand final will commence at 3pm in Lithgow.