THE 2018 Australian Hockey League (AHL) commences this weekend, with the return to a month-long home and away format offering up nationwide excitement as the top domestic and internationals players, including Gerringong’s Grace Stewart and Mollymook’s Kalindi Commerford, do battle.
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Australian Hockey’s elite domestic competition consists of three rounds played in every capital city before the finals weekend on the Gold Coast from Thursday, October 25 to Sunday, October 28.
This year’s AHL includes rule modifications and innovations, including conversion goals, PumpPlays and no draws, providing more excitement for fans.
The 2018 AHL will be the final edition of the competition before a revamped league is launched next year.
The two pools are South Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia (pool A) and Canberra [featuring Kalindi Commerford], New South Wales [featuring Grace Stewart], Queensland and Tasmania (pool B) across both women’s and men’s divisions.
Round one sees the AHL return to Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin for the first time in years, with the competition reverting from its previous centralised carnival format.
The opening round starts with Pool B on Saturday with a blockbuster State Of Origin clash with star-studded line-ups for NSW Arrows and Waratahs and Queensland Scorchers and Blades from 2pm (women’s) and 4pm (men’s) at Sydney Olympic Park.
Stewart is joined in the NSW Arrows side by Jocelyn Bartram (goalkeeper), Sarah Johnston, Kate Hanna, Emily Smith, Anna Flanagan, Greta Hayes, Mikaela Patterson, Tamsin Bunt, Kaitlin Nobbs, Jessica Watterson, Georgina Morgan, Kate Jenner and Abigail Wilson.
On Saturday evening, Tassie Van Demons and Tigers host Canberra Strikers and Lakers at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre from 5:30pm (women’s) and 7:15pm (men’s).
Commerford’s Strikers squad also includes Edwina Bone (c), Catriona Bailey-Price, Jessica Smith, Meredith Bone, Sophie Gaughan, Samantha Economos, Naomi Evans, Elena Tice, Beckie Middleton, Rebecca Lee, Tina Taseska, Sarah White and Rene Hunter (goalkeeper).
Pool A commences on Sunday as SA Suns and Hotshots entertain WA Diamonds and Thundersticks at Adelaide’s State Hockey Centre from 2pm (women’s) and 3:45pm (men’s).
The round concludes on Sunday evening when the NT Toshiba Pearls and SRA Stingers welcome the reigning champions, Victoria Vipers and Vikings, from 5pm (women’s) and 6:45pm (men’s) at Marrara Hockey Centre.
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