LEFT: Nathan Stephens makes a run with the ball for the Heat at Saturday’s semi-final.
LEFT: Nathan Stephens makes a run with the ball for the Heat at Saturday’s semi-final. Craig Warhurst

The heat is on for the final

 

 

HOCKEY: The Cooloola Heat is through to the grand final in two weeks time after defeating minor premiers Flinders on Saturday with a convincing 5-1 victory.

Player coach Dom Stephens said before the game, the Gympie side spoke as a team and it was easy to see they were raring to get on the field.

"Everyone was focused and knew what was required to win the match."

The Heat got off to a flying start, dominating possession and restricting Flinders to playing in their half of the field.

The strikers opened the game up and allowed Gympie to get the first penalty corner of the match.

"Nathan Stephens drag flicked off the first battery and slotted our first goal," Stephens said.

Soon after Kalum Warhurst and Nathan carved up the right hand side to find Matthew Hurrell in space. He burned his defender and passed to Mitchell Robertson who got a touch in to the goal and take the Heat to a comfortable two-goal lead.

"After more attacking plays we got another corner where Nathan got our third goal for the match with another quick drag flick."

The Heat found a bit too much comfort in their 3-0 lead and strayed from their game plan, allowing Flinders to find some open space up front.

They got one back a couple of minutes before the half-time break.

The Heat played Flinders in the last round game of the season last week and also had a two goal advantage heading in to the second half. But Gympie let their lead slip allowing Flinders to come back and tie the game.

The Heat did not plan on repeating that result and instead, capitalised on their lead, and now don't have fight for a grand final spot against Maroochydore.

"The first 10 minutes of the second half were spent defending our own goal line," Stephens said.

Nathan made some great tackles to deny Flinders any real opportunity of scoring. He also went on to get a hat trick, after another drag flick found the back of the net.

"Nathan is the most dangerous attacker in the competition and our leading goal scorer.

"When his confidence is high, he can take apart any defence," Stephens said.

"The beauty of it is, if other teams try to target him, it leaves the likes of Codey Warhurst and John Daly open and they are also major threats when attacking the goal."

Hurrell was quick to follow and he put the final nail in the coffin with a nice touch in goal.

"We were very happy with the result.

"It is a good feeling being able to get straight into the final - which is something we have never been able to do since the Heat started 11 years ago.

"We want to go one step better than last year."