Scotland: Grange Men and Watsonians Women on EuroHockey Club Trophy duty this weekend

Grange men and Watsonians women are top of their respective Premierships, now this weekend they pit their skills against some of the top sides on the continent in the EuroHockey Club Trophy – that is Europe`s second tier below the elite EHL.

So it`s going to be a tough schedule.

In the initial pool competition Grange will face Lisnagarvey (Ireland), OKS-SHVSM Vinnitsa (Ukraine) and hosts AD Lousada (Portugal) before Monday`s play-offs for rankings.

And final placings are crucial as they provide ranking points for EHL qualification next season.

On the challenge ahead Grange manager Martin Shepherdson said, “We believe we have a strong enough squad to be competitive in every game we play. We know it will be tough playing four games in four days, but we’ll go in with confidence given our season so far.”

A confident note, and Grange have played at this level before. Certainly Grange travel to Lousada on the back of an impressive domestic season which sees the Edinburgh side top of the Premiership and close to winning the title. Particularly impressive was last weekend`s 4-0 win over Western Wildcats – perhaps Grange are peaking at the right time. And the goals are beginning to roll in with Aussie Dylan Bean, Jamie Green and David Nairn recently on target.

Perhaps Watsonians` domestic record is even more impressive with every game won until the draw with the Edinburgh students and have put themselves in a great position to regain the Premiership title. Their goals come from several directions but recently mostly from Sarah Jamieson, Katherine Holdgate, Ailsa Small and the set piece expertise of Emily Dark.

There is also quality in Watsonians opposition in Hamburg. The pool consist of Surbiton (England), Butterfly Roma (Italy), and host side Der Club An Der Alster. And there are Scots to contend with, An Der Alster have listed Laura Swanson while Amy Costello plays for Surbiton. So it`s not going to be easy.

Watsonians` coach Keith Smith elaborated on the changing situation regarding the Trophy competition. “Originally we were aiming for a top six finish to retain Scotland`s place in the Trophy next season, but the recent announcement that the women`s EHL will be expanded to twelve teams now also means that there is no relegation from the Trophy this time round, so in that respect the pressure is off. We obviously still want to finish as high as we can, especially because there are EHL ranking points at stake, but we can go and play without fear.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Keith remarked: “Hopefully it`ll set us up well for the remainder of the domestic season and for next season too. The players that went to the Indoor Club Cup in Turkey last month came back really inspired to kick on with how we approach indoor in the future, and I`m confident the same will happen for our outdoor aspirations after Hamburg.”



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by Scotland Hockey

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