Upset win guarantees home final

Big win: Wests' Harry Jilley looks to get past the Marist defence. Photo: Supplied.
Big win: Wests' Harry Jilley looks to get past the Marist defence. Photo: Supplied.

Wests went in to Saturday's qualifying final against Bunbury-based Marist as the outright underdog.

Marist, having beaten Wests on every occasion this season, would have felt confident that at the final whistle they would be the side that would face Boyanup in next week's grand final.

Wests with a steely determination, a few positional changes and a new game plan had what they thought could be a different version of the outcome.

Wests regained David Reid and selected Matty Braid in front of promising youngsters Archer Coates and Jackson Stokes.

Rumours had already been heard in South West hockey circles that captain coach Brent Dancer and the Associations' highest goal scorer for season 2019, may have an injury that would affect his ability to place his usual influence on the game.

However, when Dancer looked at ease during the warm ups potential plans made by Marist to capitalise on his absence were soon quashed.

The game started with the expected speed, nerves and intensity of a preliminary final and it appeared that whoever settled first would create the initial opportunities.

Three minutes in to the first quarter Russell Hartley of Wests had only the goal keeper to beat, the crowd collective held their breath, the shot saved by a full-length dive from the Marist goal keeper.

A penalty corner at the nine-minute mark of the quarter was initially saved by Wests' goal keeper, Dan McKewon, however the deflection went straight back to a Marist attacker, who capitalised on the opportunity, breaking the 0-0 deadlock, Marist 1, Wests 0.

Four minutes later, good ball movement from Wests' Russell Hartley and Miles Armstrong ended in a penalty corner from which Armstrong was able to place a powerfully hit strike in the back of the net. Scores 1 - all at quarter-time.

In the second quarter and for the remainder of the game Marist continued to place pressure on the Wests defence as they pushed hard to create scoring opportunities.

Wests defensive group remained stoic and repelled numerous attacking movements.

The coach's commentary and praise at games' end for Ben and Tom Payne, Luke Wedderburn, Sam Tolley, Chris Brooke and Hamish Carter confirmed the defensive groups influence on the game.

The game remained at 1-all at half-time with both sides recognising that their season where on the line, the second half saw some hard tackling and aggressive attacks on the ball.

The deadlock was broken when Miles Armstrong scored what was to be the second of his four goals for the afternoon.

Haig Colombera was instrumental in setting up two of these and managed to score a brilliant tomahawk near the end of the game to send the small loyal Wests crowd in to raptures as the final result was Wests 5 - Marist 1.

The grand final will be played at Busselton Hockey Stadium next Saturday afternoon and will see unbeaten Boyanup take on Wests at 1.30pm.