Frugal Wests have University on guard


Coach Scott Matthews believes Wests are better prepared to handle University's impressive attacking arsenal in Sunday's Illawarra hockey showdown.

Battered 6-2 by Uni earlier in the season, Wests have since clawed their way back to share top spot on the ladder on the back of a campaign built on rock-solid defence.

Consecutive shut-outs of Mittagong - 3-0 on Sunday then 5-0 in Thursday's deferred game - have only boosted the confidence of a Wests team intent on breaking up the Uni and Albion Park duopoly in the competition.

Sunday's showdown is a battle of the best attacking team - University have slammed home 47 goals in seven games - against the league's outstanding defence; Wests conceding just 14 this season.

"We know they're a very attacking team, so we'll have to be at our best," he said.

"Short corners will be a key to the game, we'll have to try and break them down outside the circle and limit their opportunities to score.

"Hopefully we'll have plenty of opportunity to hit them on the counter-attack."

Veteran Paul Munro will be the cornerstone of Wests' defence, while Matthews is relying on leading goal-scorer Elliott Ashby to make the most of the chances they create.

Two years after making his first-grade debut, now 17-year-old Mitch Galea has been a major factor in Wests emergence as a force in the Illawarra competition.

"It's good for the league to have other teams competing with Uni and Albion Park, but we'll know where we're at after a game like this," Matthews said.