A CLASSY Wests proved too slick for the under-manned Spitfires in a 7-0 romp in Capital League Hockey.
The Hockey Albury Wodonga men, missing a number of key personnel through injury, were down 5-0 at half-time in cold and wet conditions at the Albury Hockey Centre.
The Strikers too lost their first game of the year, going down 2-1 to Canberra Uni after conceding both goals inside the first 10 minutes.
Spitfires coach Matt Smart said the opposition was a polished outfit.
“We started really well with the man on man defence and then did some ball watching and they just ran into the gaps,” he said.
“Without Ben Allen and Andrew Wilkes we didn’t really have the experience to turn it around.
“But it was a great lesson in hockey — Wests moved the ball quickly, didn’t take time over free hits and had excellent ball movement on and off the ball.
“We just couldn’t match that.”
Smart said captain Tony Donnolley, Hugh Cullen and Josh Pritchard were their best.
“We had passages where we played really well,” he said.
“It is a learning curve for us and we need to speed up our play, move the ball more quickly if we are to match these sides.”
Meanwhile, the Strikers were left to rue a slow start and squandered chances in their first loss of the season.
“They handled the conditions better than us despite it being our homeground and scored twice in the first 8½ minutes,” coach Tony Jones said.
“After that we were on top of them and unlucky not to come away with at least a draw. We created more chances than them but to be honest were wasteful with our early shots.”
Jones said keeper Sam Campbell and defenders Rhianna Coleiro and Sadie Butler were their best in the first real test of the new competition.
“Having made the move to this league after winning Victorian State League 1 last year we were told the competition was stronger,” he said.
“But in the first two weeks we played teams that finished at the bottom of the ladder whereas this side had pushed for a spot in the finals.
“They were a good outfit and attacked the ball a lot stronger than our girls — they were just keener to play in the first 10 minutes.”