WHILE two Manning teams will fight out the division one men's hockey grand final on Saturday, Chatham coach Frank Birkefeld warns clubs from Port Macquarie are on the rise.
Chatham, the nine-time premier, and Sharks will play in the grand final. The Hastings challenge ended last week when Chatham eliminated Tacking Point Thunder in the final. Thunder finished second in the competition-proper, but lost the major semi and final.
The other Hastings side in the men's division one, Camden Haven, finished well out of contention for a finals berth.
However, Birkefeld pointed to the growing player base in the Hastings and the establishment of a university in Port Macquarie as reasons why he thinks the Port clubs will soon be powerhouses. Chatham beat Thunder in last season's grand final.
"I think it's fair say that we (Chatham) have been then benchmark for the past few years. Other clubs lift when they play us,'' he said.
"But I can see when one of the Port clubs will be the benchmark. With the uni there they won't lose as many of their kids and they'll get players coming into the area.''
He said even though Camden Haven struggled this year they fielded some quality players.
"They did have some problems with player numbers, but once that's sorted they'll be a strong side,'' he said.
Five clubs - three from the Manning and two from the Hastings, contested this year's division one.
Tacking Point Thunder also played in the Manning division one women's competition, where they were beaten in the final last weekend.