TACKING Point will chase Manning hockey history in Saturday’s division one men’s grand final against defending premiers Chatham by winning a premiership in their first grade final appearance.
Thunder were underachievers in the former Mid North Coast Premier League.
The premier league league was scrapped this year and Thunder took a huge step to join the Manning division one competition where they have been a welcome addition.
Thunder accounted for the Bull Sharks and Tigers to advance to this Saturday’s decider and will be riding high after their overtime win in last week's final.
Thunder recorded a big 6-0 win over Chatham this year.
Veterans Jarrod Smith and Andrew Meldrum give this young team experience and guidance.
They are solid and reliable in defence, while Smith switches to the midfield on occasions.
Thunder have vastly improved youngsters who don't overplay their hand.
Bayden Smith, Ben Harris and Jesse Beard have stood up to the pressure so far although playing the Wolves in the grand final will be the ultimate test.
Young keeper Declan Pitt is another improver.
Pitt will need better support from key central defender Mitch Patterson.
Patterson is in penalty corner scoring form, bagging three against Tigers from the PC battery. He'll need to find his radar again.
Sam Peake, Ryan Payne and Bryce Philpott will be vital if Thunder are to enjoy success.
They will not get the same space and time in midfield against the Wolves as they were afforded in previous weeks.
Chatham will look pressure them into making poor decisions with ball. Peake has been strong in the finals, while Payne has been outstanding all year and has some sublime skills.
Philpott, a former West Australian under 21 representative, has silky skills and great match awareness and could hold the key if Thunder are to be victorious.
Thunder have two extremely dangerous strikers Ash Grummitt and Brad Patterson.
If they have a day out they can cause Chatham headaches. A former goalkeeper, Patterson can sniff out a goal. Grummitt has a high hockey IQ and is an elite sharp shooter. They’ll cause problems if Chatham’s defence is flat-footed.
Thunder boast the structure and style to frustrate Chatham. They were clinical when they beat Chatham earlier this season – it was no fluke.
But if Thunder do get caught off guard by Chatham it could get ugly. This could blow out either way but it has the potential to be a classic decider.