2019 South West Men's Hockey League | Wests hang on to play another day

Welcome back Carter: Wests' player Hamish Carter looks for a passing opportunity in the weekend's elimination final against Exies. Photo: Supplied.
Welcome back Carter: Wests' player Hamish Carter looks for a passing opportunity in the weekend's elimination final against Exies. Photo: Supplied.

Wests played against Exies in a elimination final at Busselton Hockey Stadium at 3.30pm on Saturday, the loser eliminated from the competition, the winner going on to play a qualifying final next week in Bunbury.

Wests welcomed back Miles Armstrong, whose ability to score goals has been missed during his absence, while David Reid was unavailable.

Wests went in to the game with a positive attitude, following last week's win and the home ground advantage.

The game commenced at a fast pace with both sides recognising the significance of a loss.

Russell Hartley had an excellent opportunity to score two minutes after the first whistle and if not for an excellent save by the Exies goal keeper would have put Wests in front early.

Wests had further chances to score in the quarter, with three penalty corners, the second of which hit the goal post.

Both teams continued to exert forward pressure; both defensive groups were forced to work hard throughout, although Wests appeared to have the better scoring opportunities.

Wests forward Russell Hartley's ability to constantly find space, trap the ball at pace and cut through the defence had Exies defenders constantly questioning how they could stop his forward momentum.

The score at quarter time: 0 - 0.

Wests started the second quarter with aggression and intent, Russell Hartley's hard work and destructive running was rewarded when, just after the third minute his individual brilliance created his first successful scoring opportunity.

Less than four minutes later a well-directed pass from Sam Tolley gave Hartley his second goal of the game.

The game continued at a fast and furious pace with finals intensity, two minutes before half time Exies scored their first goal via a penalty corner.

The score at half-time: Wests 2 - Exies 1.

Both sides started nervously in the third quarter, it was as if the players had suddenly recognised the significance of a loss.

Exies settled better than Wests and constantly tested Wests scrambling defence.

The score line of 2-1 was maintained until Miles Armstrong, one of Wests best finishes in front of goal seized an attacking opportunity and successfully guided a well hit tomahawk in to the back of the goal.

Scores now Wests 3 - Exies 1.

Exies never say die attitude continued as they maintained forward momentum, with Wests defence constantly tested, James Dawson's tackling and ball use was a highlight.

Exies pressure continued throughout the last quarter, with just under three minutes of the game remaining Exies scored their second goal.

The last three minutes of the game was played a frenetic pace with much of the attacking done by Exies.

The final result: Wests 3 - Exies 2.

With Exies season now over their club should be congratulated on the sportsmanship they showed throughout the game and their attendance at the after match function, despite their disappointment was much appreciated by their Wests opponents.

For Wests, this week's final will be another elimination; the loser to hang up their sticks and the winner to go into the grand final.

Mark Tolley