With a new surface installed at Berri’s Glassey Park the 2017 Riverland Hockey season got underway last weekend with a number of new players in the teams, some prominent transfer of players and as so often happens at the start of the season some clubs down on numbers.

Last year’s A Grade Women’s premier Waikerie was one such team with only Lori Hocking, Trinity Schmidt and Justice Ebert available from the 2016 Grand Final line up to play Renmark.

The Renmark club had an emotional start to2017 as it acknowledged its young champion Casey Dalton who tragically lost his life during the off season. Dalton’s auntie Nicole Schumann spoke before matches commenced and presented new players Charlotte Dominic (from Berri), Jess Elphick, Charlee and Christie Webb with their playing tops.

Two short and one field goal to evergreen Danielle Weeks for Renmark and another to Rebecca Keynes resulted in a 4-1 victory for their side. Brooke Webb, Charlotte Dominic and Danielle Weeks were named as the best players. Veteran Vicki Schmidt goaled for Waikerie with its best players Trinity Schmidt, Talia Ebert and Lori Hocking.

In the other game Berri, inspired by a superb game from Naomi Weatherald, drew with Loxton in a seesawing encounter 3-3. Weatherald used all of her experience for 2 goals and a best player ranking with Kira McMahon the other scorer and others listed as best players Sarah Robinson and Ada Walladge. For Loxton the goals came from BJ Hammerstein, Lisa Redemski (from Waikerie), and a new name Rory Giddings. Giddings, Mare Haerwig and Redemski were best.

Reigning champion Loxton burst out of the blocks in A Grade Men to defeat Berri 6-1. Sean Burgess and Sean Herbert both scored 2 goals, Briley Gibbs and Ryan Hentschke each 1 for Loxton and the score for Berri came from Jesse Passmore. Named best for Loxton were Joel Hopper, Burgess and Gibbs and for Berri Jordan Burgess, Passmore and Keeley Butler-Kerridge.

A solid team performance by Waikerie with goals from Christian Willis and Shae Lochert gave it a hard fought win against Renmark 2-1. Ben Duggin goaled for Renmark with its best players Andrew Coombs, Martin Tucker and Jarryd Roberts.

In the Women’s A Grade competition team coaches this season are Rosie Lawson and Vicki Schmidt (Waikerie), Tara Allister (Loxton), Matt Mallinson (Renmark) and Shaun Kelly (Berri).

Loxton is coached by Kelvin Burgemeister in Men’s A Grade, Darren Brewer is at Waikerie, Anthony Segui (Berri) and Jeff dowling (Renmark).