GRAND final berths will be up for grabs when Warrnambool District Hockey Association preliminary finals go ahead this weekend.
The men’s, women’s and under 17 matches are at Albert Park on Saturday as part of a triple-header starting at 11am.
Pirates and Technique will clash in the senior men’s match, with minor premier Strikers awaiting the winner in the grand final.
Subbies start favourite to defeat Strikers in the senior women’s match. Saints have already qualified for the grand final after a dominant season.
The under 17 match pits Mariners against Technique, but the winner faces arguably the toughest task in the WDHA to claim the ultimate spoils.
Minor premier Storm finished on top with a flawless 15 wins from 15 matches, scoring 79 goals and conceding just 11 in the process.
Pirates captain Jason Beveridge said he was confident his much-changed outfit could win through to the men’s grand final.
The side has undergone a changing of the guard, losing veterans David Murray, Paul Wastall and Shaun King during the off-season.
Five juniors — Connor Drummond, Ash Giblin, Dom Sycopoulis, Stewart Manderson and Matt McLeod — have taken their place, with success.
“Stewart Manderson to me is going to be a terrific hockey player and the other guys, it’s about confidence,” Beveridge said.
“If you get confidence up that you can play at that level, it makes a big difference. Connor Drummond is going to be a good player and Dom Sycopoulis impresses me every time he runs out. It’s a work in progress.”
Beveridge said Pirates had beaten Technique three times this season while their fourth encounter finished in a draw.
He said his men entered finals in form, having beaten every team in the competition in the past month, including minor premier Strikers.
But their bid to book a grand final berth suffered a blow last weekend, with Corey Beveridge, Jason’s brother, injuring a knee.
“Technique will definitely be thereabouts, they’ve certainly got some good young players,” Beveridge said.
“But we defend really well against them and seem to score a bit easier.
“You’ve got to be confident if you’re there. You never know what’s going to happen on the day.”
Meanwhile, the under 15 preliminary final is on tomorrow night. Technique meets Mariners Green, with the winner to play Mariners Red.