Flames shaping up to back-to-back titles
THE Fraser Flames have made a habit of beating Brothers in big games.
But player-coach Shane Cowling felt the Flames face their biggest test yet when they battle against minor premiers the Magpies in Saturday's Hervey Bay hockey men's grand final.
Just 12 months after ending their title drought with a dramatic penalty strokes victory over Brothers, the Flames are just one win from going back-to-back.
The Flames booked a date with the Magpies in the grand final after prevailing 3-2 in an extra-time thriller against Brothers in the preliminary final at McFie Park on Saturday night.
In a hard-fought affair, the Flames pegged back a 2-0 deficit to level the scores at full-time before Darren Hunter fired home the game-winner from a short corner early in the first period of extra time.
"I was pleased for the boys," Cowling said.
"To put everything out there and get the win, I was very proud."
Brothers started the match well with goals to Phil Taylor and Ben Brown putting them on the front foot.
Experienced campaigners Josh Euler and Hunter were leading the way forward for the Flames, controlling the play and this led to Alex Kruger scoring the team's first goal.
The Flames continued to rally after the break with youngsters Connor Griffin and Corey Pocock providing plenty of spark off the bench.
Cowling then levelled the scores midway through the second half before Hunter provided the heroics.
Cowling said the team was buzzing in confidence and would give the rampaging Magpies a shake in the grand final.
"With the form we've got coming in and the self belief in the team, I definitely think we can (win)," he said.
Cowling said it would be a remarkable effort to win successive grand finals, but believed there are still many hurdles to overcome if they are to go back to back.
"I think that (going back to back) is all in the back of our minds," he said.
"It is there, but at end of day we can't go in with that mentality that we have a chance of losing it.
"For us, we have to go out there and not let that get to us, which I think with the maturity within the team and a couple of young fellas, it won't get to us."
The Flames women's team ensured all three senior grand finals would be contested between the Magpies and the Flames by beating Brothers 2-1.
A double from Melissa Wyatt proved the difference.
Men's: Fraser Flames 3 (Shane Cowling, Alex Kruger, Darren Hunter) def Brothers 2 (Phil Taylor, Ben Brown)
Women's: Fraser Flames 2 (Melissa Wyatt 2) def Brothers 1 (Lynn Bray)