Premier League Hockey: Parkes having solid start to the season

ON THE BURST: St Pat's Millie Fulton's is chased by Parkes' Savannah Draper. Fulton scored St Pat's goal, and was a constant threat for the Parkes defence. Photo: Phil Blatch.

ON THE BURST: St Pat's Millie Fulton's is chased by Parkes' Savannah Draper. Fulton scored St Pat's goal, and was a constant threat for the Parkes defence. Photo: Phil Blatch.

A goal in the dying stages was enough for Parkes to claim a 1-all draw against St Pat's in round two of the Western Premier League Hockey in Bathurst on Saturday afternoon.

Parkes has returned to the competition this year and the effort in beating last year's semi-finalists Confederates in round one was backed up with the performance against the Saints.

"It's great to be back running around in Premier League again, especially being able to guide a group of really talented young kids," says Wendy Rix, a senior member of the Parkes side.

St Pat's scored in the 20th minute when Millie Fulton used speed and deft touch to break into the circle then finish nicely in a one-on-one.

But one goal never looked like it was going to be enough given Parkes had plenty of their own speed in attack.

The Saints worked hard for another goal - they earned five penalty corners across the match - while in defence some strong tackling inside the circle from the likes of Lucy Weal, Carly Hagney and Amy Glen was a feature.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

But the finishing touches in attack and precision when transitioning of the ball out of defence was not at its best.

St Pat's coach Ben Weal was full of praise for Parkes, though disappointed with the way his side executed, or lack thereof, their chances.

"I think we made a few errors defensively as far as turnovers go, we threw balls to them rather than us," Weal said.

"We gave them the ball often in dangerous areas and we probably didn't capitalise on a few of those chances that we had," says Weal.

The threat Parkes posed in attack was made clear in the opening seconds as India Draper's speed saw her beat a number of defenders before linking with Meghan Searl.

The Saints created chances of their own in that first quarter, a brilliant Ella Davis long ball out of defence picking out Fulton and it required a sharp block from Parkes custodian Gracie Denham Jones to deny her.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

Kristy Ekert blasted another attempt into the side of the goal 37 seconds out from the break, but five minutes into the second quarter Fulton gave her side the lead.

Parkes had two penalty corner chances for the period go unconverted.

Both sides threatened from that set piece in the third quarter, Lucy Turner making an excellent trap to deny Pat's while down the other end Campbell made a double-block - turning away a strike from Andrea Gillard then diving to her right to block Peta Fagan's effort.

But with 3.36 left on the clock Parkes had the equaliser thanks to Chloe Carty.

Rix said the original aim for Parkes in this shortened season was to simply be competitive, but the brain trust may need to have a re-think. A solid start in the opening two games and the fact the next three rounds will all be played at home means Parkes may be a competition dark horse.

"With some quality players steering the young talent around, we've shown after the past two weeks that we can be more than competitive.

"The more the girls get exposure at this level, and continue to grow and develop, we have the speed and talent up front to cause some damage," says Rix.

The game plan for Parkes will be to try and maximise their strength up front by maintaining possession as much as possible through the midfield, though Rix is conscious that having a younger side means there are more possibilities for lapses during the game.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

PREMIER LEAGUE HOCKEY: St Pat's v Parkes. Photo: Phil Blatch.

Weal echoed Rix's sentiments after the game, conceding Parkes will be a threat in women's Premier League Hockey this season.

"They're a contender, very fast and quite organised in the midfield, so yeah, they'll be a threat I think," says Weal.

"They pushed real hard."

In other hockey news, Parkes hosted Round 2 of the newly formed Masters League for the region on Sunday, with the visiting Dubbo side prevailing 2-0 despite a closely contested game.

Parkes generated the majority of the chances throughout the game, but it was Dubbo who were able to better capitalise on their opportunities.

The standard of hockey across the two games was sensational and with just four teams contesting the league, it's anyone's game for the title.

Women's Premier League Hockey Round 2

St Pat's 1 (Millie Fulton) drew with Parkes 1 (Chloe Carty)

Lithgow Panthers 3 (Ashley Luka, Caitlin Burns 2) defeated Souths 1 (Danielle Fisher)

Confederates 3 (Eva Reith-Snare 2, Katelyn Tink) defeated Orange CYMS 0

Ex-Services 2 (Haylea Butcherine, Larissa Gallard) defeated Bathurst City 0