A brilliant sunny and warm Cairns day was the perfect setting for Finals day at this year's national championships. As in the semi-final, our team was depleted by the injury to David Campbell and the illness of Russell Clucas. The coach put his trust in the line up and structure that demolished the
Victorians, with Rick McConnell playing Sweeper and Steve Preece playing centre back. These two had the major task of marking our opponent's key players and they would not be afforded any rest period during the game.
The gold medal match was the tight affair that we expected. Queensland's plan was to keep putting the ball deep into our territory and hope for a turnover to give their ace centre forward, John Campbell, the chance to score. However, our defence was equal to the task and gave QLD very few chances to penetrate our circle.
We attacked from the hit off and scored from a penalty corner in the 3rd minute. Clive Harrison's drag flick was slightly deflected by the goalkeeper, but right wing David Birt was able to turn the ball into the net. An early goal is always a great psychological boost in a final and gave us added confidence. Play see-sawed throughout the rest of the first half - the defence on both sides was strong and we lead 1-0 at half-time.
Clive Harrison put the result (almost) beyond doubt in the 48th minute, when he converted a penalty corner with another superb drag flick that the QLD goalkeeper could just touch on its way into the net.
The final quarter was played at a frenetic pace with QLD having several shots at goal. Peter Frappell's save on the goal line in the 65th minute was one of the finest moments of the tournament.
The Gold Medal was thoroughly well-deserved by this champion team. Frappel, Terry and Bull were
unflappable at wing half, Denis Cranston controlled the centre strongly in every match and was the player's choice as player of the tournament. Rob Redding was outstanding at left midfield and also in the centre when relieving Cranston. Rob's cover defence in the final was simply brilliant and he ran non-stop.
Geoff Hadley had a great championship and played mainly left midfield and had several stints at striker and left half when required. Our strikers were the best in the championships - Clive Harrison, Noel French, Glenn Buttsworth and David Birt were fast and skilful and very hard to handle.
Glenn Crowhurst was called upon infrequently but made six fine saves and can boast about the 7 clean sheets. Glenn was always involved by his communication from the back
McConnell and Preece were superb in the semi final and final. We all felt for David Campbell and Russell Clucas. Both played magnificently in the first four games.
Overall, the best team won the 60s championships very convincingly, winning all 7 games and finishing with a scoreline of 41 goals for and none against.
Our team was, once again, superbly managed by Michael "Macca" McKenzie - Thanks Macca!
After settling down from the shock of losing David Campbell in the fourth minute of the match with a hamstring injury, we played excellent team hockey to record a great win over arch rivals, Victoria.
Clive Harrison scored a hat trick and Noel French, Rob Redding and David Birt also scored goals.
Our players followed the structure perfectly and defended stoutly to record another clean sheet. Steve Preece, Rick McConnell, Peter Frappel, Garry Bull and Andrew Terry all gave near-perfect performances and we hope that they will be as good, if not better, in the final against Queensland on Saturday.
Denis Cranston at centre half, Geoff Hadley and Rob Redding in the midfield and our strikers, Noel, Clive, David and Glenn were too fast and too skilful for the opposition.
In the other semi-final, Queensland beat WA 2-1 in a very close encounter. Wa nearly forced a draw when a shot at goal was made as the final siren sounded.
Our first match under lights at this tournament was the quarter final against ACT. We expected to have a tough match with our opponents having one of the best masters players in the world, Peter Shepherd playing centre half. We made a somewhat nervous start and sprayed the ball everywhere except to the fellows wearing blue shirts. Nevertheless we had the bulk of possession and eventually forced a penalty corner which Clive Harrison converted with a curving flick to the left of the goalkeeper.
Our combinations and teamwork improved greatly in the second quarter which featured some brilliant ball movement down the right flank. Noel French completed a great 3 man movement that started on the half way line and swept past several ACT defenders who were unable to repel the attack. Robert Redding added a third with a powerful drive from the top of the circle. 3-0 at half time.
We played well throughout the second half and moved the ball around crisply. The ACT defence was able to hold us out and we did not compete many well-structured movements. David Campbell scored our fourth goal with penalty corner conversion. Our defence was again strong with Steve Preece, Rick McConnell, David Campbell, Peter Frappell, Gary Bull and Andrew Terry all contributing well. Another clean sheet!
Awards - NSW - Robert Redding and Andrew Terry. QLD - Danni Camalleri.
In other quarter finals played yesterday, WA def. SA 11-0, VIC. Def. QLD 2, 4-0, QLD 1 def NSW 2, 3-1.
The semi finals on Thursday are - WA vs. QLD and NSW vs. VIC.
Despite the loss of Russell Clucas to a bout of the Flu, we played very well across the midfield to dominate a good QLD team. The first quarter was played almost entirely in the QLD half and we won several penalty corners through deep penetrations by David Birt, Clive Harrison and Glen Buttsworth.
However, we were unable to convert any of them. The pressure was soon rewarded when Noel French scored with a delicate touch from a pass from Dennis Cranston.
We were attacking strongly throughout the quarter with Clive, Rob Redding and Geoff Hadley making many raids. We keep the QLD goalkeeper Peter Mann very busy.
The second quarter was an odd affair with our team taking the field with an extra defender and one less forward. The player rotation sheets prepared by the coach were is disarray because of the late decision to keep Russell on the bench. So, we played the full quarter with two strikers and an extra man in defence. Not surprisingly, we controlled the midfield well, but did not make as many scoring chances as in the first quarter. Steven Preece was the extra man in defence and he was very solid.
The third quarter saw our team continue to attack at every opportunity and Clive Harrison scored with a superb flick over Peter Mann. David Campbell was a powerhouse at centre back and constantly turned defence into attack.
The speed of Clive, Glen, Birtie, Reddo and Noel was a feature of the match and had our opponents back-pedalling frequently. We put the result beyond doubt when Glen and Clive combined to score a great field goal.
QLD forced a few penalty corners in the fourth quarter, but our defence was impenetrable - Goalkeeper Glenn Crowhust made several fine saves.
Rcik McConnell did a fabulous job in closely marking QLD's top striker John Campbell throughout the match. Denis Cranston and Rob Redding both had fine games in midfield.
Awards - NSW Clive Harrison & Geoff Hadley, QLD - Peter Mann & Greg Richards. Peter Mann's exhibition showed why he is the best goalkeeper of this age group.
We play ACT in an elimination quarter final at 6.30 pm tonight.
We were treated to a fabulous day of hockey today in Cairns with four finals. The 35s match was the most entertaining of the four with NSW triumphing 4-3 over Victoria.
Queensland won the 45 division one title 2-0 over Victoria while NSW defeated Queensland 2-1 in the 45 division two final. Novocastrians Danny Beckett and Craig Martin had outstanding games for NSW in the 45/s victory.
Dean Farrow and Nick Fraser played well for NSW in the 40s final, although our team was not a match for the brilliant WA team, losing 3-1. The NSW goalkeeper was our best player.
The Player of the Tournament Awards were presented at the conclusion of each final and the winners were -
35 - Matthew Whitbread, Victoria
40 - Steve Carter, ACT
45/1 - Stuart Beltz, Tasmania
45/2 - Glenn Turner, NSW.
There is a major imbalance in the standard of teams in our competition with the inclusion of state's second teams in the same division as the number one teams. And so today, Victoria's number two team was no match against our team. The result was predictable and the final score was 12 - 0.
We were not extended by the opposition, however, we gave a performance that only partly pleased the coach - pre-game team talk and instructions were seemingly forgotten within minutes of the start of the game. We scored several soft goals and then several that were well constructed and superbly completed. The lack of movement off the ball was at times a worry. The coach hopes that the players will find that clinical, precise and intense level of skill in our important match against the other undefeated team in our pool, Queensland, on Monday.
Seven players scored goals today, Glenn Buttsworth 3, Rob Redding, 2, Russell Clucas 2, David Birt 2, Clive Harrison 1, Noel French 1 and Dennis Cranston 1.
Best on field today was Rob Redding who gave a sparkling performance at left and centre midfield. Goalkeeper, Glenn Crowhurst mad two excellent saves in the second half.
The Annual match at the championships that has an aura and great expectation for NSW is always the game against Victoria. The Victorian team usually includes several of our long-term mates, with whom we are team mates in the Australian team. These games are played with great spirit and feature tight defence and skilful hockey.
Goals were not easy to find during the first quarter, but our persistence paid off when David Campbell converted our second penalty corner with a clever, well-placed drive into the right corner of the net. Denis Cranston then scored after taking a free hit on the 23 mark and waltzing through a wide corridor left by the Victorians at the top of the circle. Denis' back stick goal was one to savour from his trick shot repertoire.
The Victorians were playing well with David Peebles at inside right, Norman Same on the right wing and Geoff Lewis at centre half proving to be elusive and constructive. Thankfully, our defence was very tight and our goalie Glenn Crowhurst was called on only twice to thwart circle penetrations.
We maintained our attacking intensity throughout the second half and we rewarded with two further goals by Noel French and Geoff Hadley. A 4-0 win was a satisfying result and leaves our team clearly on top of the table.
David Campbell, Denis Cranston, Robert Redding and Geoff Hadley played very well in a solid team performance. Victoria voted your scribe as Man of the Match for NSW and we gave our award to the Victorian Captain, David Peebles for his outstanding performance. Our players voted Denis Cranston as the recipient of our player of the match Mug.
Our next match is on Saturday against the Victorian second team.
We made a highly successful start to this year's national championships with a good win over South Australia - 10 - nil.
SA had been difficult to beat in 2014 and we were prepared for a tough match. However, it did not happen and we scored 5 goals in each half. SA tried hard but were no match for our team. David Campbell converted our first penalty corner in the 5th minute and the goals came quite freely after that. Russell Clucas and Noel French then added two more and your scribe then added a further two before the half-time break. Our players adapted to the coach's structure quite quickly and our new team members, David Birt, Steven Preece and Geoff Hadley all had very fine games.
Despite the heat, 29c, we maintained a good tempo throughout the second half and scored a further 5 goals - Geoff Hadley 2, Noel French, Russell Clucas and Denis Cranston all registered on the score sheet.
South Australia gave the scribe their award as the best player for NSW while we gave our award to Martin, the SA skipper. The NSW players gave noel French their vote as best on field. The coach was impressed with the efforts of Robert Redding, Rick McConnell, David Campbell and Rusty Clucas.
In other results in our group today, VIC and QLD played out a spirited 3-3 draw. We play our next match against Victoria at 8 am on Thursday.