2014 Premier League Hockey season overview

IF there is one thing you can take from the last few years in the men's and women's Premier League Hockey competitions, it is there are never certainties in the world of sport.

For 90 per cent of the 2013 Premier League Hockey season Lithgow Panthers looked almost unbeatable in their quest for consecutive women's titles, only for Bathurst St Pat's to peak at the perfect time and knock them off twice in the finals series to take the crown.

Though the men's result was less of a surprise, with Lithgow Panthers taking the spoils, the fact their win came in a thrilling grand final against the 2012 wooden spooners Bathurst Souths was amazing in itself.

There is a lot on the line for several teams this season at both ends of the ladders in the men's and women's competitions.

Dubbo made a relatively successful return in 2013 to the women's premiership, winning six matches and remaining in finals contention for much of the season.

They are one outfit that can look to the new competition with plenty of optimism.

On the flipside, teams like Confederates and Parkes have occupied the bottom two rungs of the ladder for consecutive years, with 'Feds going winless last season, and both will be desperate to shed the easybeats tag.

The Bathurst Souths women have been just shy of the top level in 2012 and 2013, getting to within one and two games of the grand final respectively.

With their young brigade now becoming relatively experienced, there is no excuse for them not to push into the genuinely elite group of teams, and, to some extent, the same goes for Ex-Services.

Bathurst City missed the grand final last year for the first time in their existence and will be desperate to atone for that.

Both St Pat's and Panthers deserve to start the season as favourites, though, given the events of last September.

In the men's side of things, Souths grew an extra leg under coach Kent Bestwick and will be determined to go one better than their 3-2 grand final loss last year against a Panthers side which has made a routine of performing in big matches.

St Pat's were unexpectedly knocked out in the first week of the 2013 semis by Parkes United and will have a point to prove, while Parkes' success will be largely dependant on getting their best team on the field week to week.

It would be hard to argue against the likelihood of that quartet once more making up the top four, though Orange Wanderers and Lithgow Zig Zag will be desperate to have a say in it themselves.

Both teams have had their moments in recent campaigns but are yet to deliver anything sustained.

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