BRUCE SNAPE MVP FOR NSW 60S IN PERTH 2014
Bruce was once again our best player and drove the team from the right back position.
Today we lost the final 0-2 to WA in a match that was closer than the scores indicate. The first half ended 0-0 and we felt we were the better team but, as in previous matches, a good build up too often came to nothing. Mis-traps, hurried shots too easy to defend, and two penalty corners without result were our downfall.
The second half started as well as the first but in the seventh minute an unfortunate turnover saw WA's Rudi Keswick weave his way through our defence and set up an easy shot for Tom Long. WA then seized the momentum and defended with 10 men. We found few holes but did earn a couple of penalty corners. Unfortunately, and perhaps through tiredness, we did not convert either one.
WA were then gifted an opportunity when a long clearing hit from their defence was deflected by us to their unmarked high forward. The subsequent scramble led to a penalty stroke that was converted. 2-0 with 15 minutes to play. We threw everything at them but they were riding on a high and played well organised hockey. Bruce Snape, Andrew Terry, David Prior and Russell Clucas were our best.
WA were worthy and deserving champions and prevented NSW from winning this title for the fourth successive year.
The semi-final against Queensland today was the cause of much angst for our supporters as, for the second time in two matches against QLD, we conceded a goal in the first five minutes. However, undaunted, we played our attacking game though failed to take advantage of the many chances our hard work created.
We forced a penalty corner moments before the half-time hooter, your scribe converting after one of our special corner moves was used. The goal, although it crossed the line and was swept out quickly by the hand of a defender, was not awarded until the umpires conferred. 1-1.
The second half was an even affair with few shots at goal by either team. The NSW defence was outstanding, repelling everything QLD threw at them. QLD's sharp-shooter, John Campbell had a quiet day and assiduously marked by our vigilant team. Ron Dillon won man of the match for a sterling performance. Others who contributed to the great defensive effort were Andrew Terry, Bruce Snape, John McDonald, Jeff Budden and David Prior.
We were pleased to see David Johnson and Brian Eastham among our supporters today and hope to give them an even better performance tomorrow.
The short time gap between our tough match against Victoria last night and game against South Australia contributed to our difficulties in disposing of the opposition.
Kerry Wise put us in front early and we were coasting for a while. We made many circle penetrations but were unable to beat SA's Novocastrian goalkeeper, Stan Hart. SA capitalised on our turnovers and attacked vigorously. They were rewarded for their persistence with a goal close to half-time.
The second half was much like the first with NSW dominating possession and field position, but continuing to be thwarted by Stan. We eventually forced a penalty stroke which was converted. We held on to win 2-1 and secure second place.
Best for NSW were Snape, Terry, Younger, Dillon and Budden, while Hart and Thurston stood out for the opposition. A rest day tomorrow will freshen us for the semi-final against QLD on Friday.
A great game of hockey between traditional rivals began in bright sunshine and finished under the rising full moon. We prevailed 3-1 after leading comfortably 2-0 at the break with goals from Sweeney and French. French's goal was a gem because it was a penalty corner set-play that we practised yesterday. John McDonald had a great first half at left half.
Victoria game out strongly after half-time and their midfield structure proved a real problem for us. We were at sixes and sevens for a while and our close marking went out the window. The Victorian centre forward scored a superb goal from the top of the circle after receiving a neat pass when unmarked.
I felt that we had the better of the latter stages of the second half and Bruce Snape put the result beyond doubt by scoring from a penalty corner rebound.
Apart from McDonald, Noel French was again in fine form and kept the opposition defence under pressure.
LAWRIE LEWIS TROPHY
The teams played for the trophy in honour of Victorian Geoff Lewis' father, Lawrie, a long-time stalwart of hockey in Melbourne. Bruce Snape was the inaugural recipient last year and this year's winner was the Victorian goalkeeper, David Spiden, who is having an outstanding tournament.
The final round of matches will be played tomorrow and top spot is on the line if QLD and WA have a draw.
We made hard work of the task to dispose of QLD Twos in gale force winds and a little rain at the Hale ground. We dominated the match and seemed to play the major part of the 70 minutes in the QLD half of the field.
QLD played an eleven man defence for much of the game and there was plenty of hacking of NSW sticks in the circle that was rarely punished. We forced 14 penalty corners and were unable to convert more than one. The QLD goalkeeper had a great game - we hit the ball at him time and time again.
We scored our first goal in the 20th minute and our second shortly later when Tom Karp was in the right position to deflect the ball into the net from a well-constucted corner move.
Disappointingly, we turned over the ball in the last minute of the half and their centre forward ran 40 metres to hit a first-time shot past our keeper just before the siren sounded for the break.
The second half was a similar struggle to score and many opportunities were missed. Noel French was a constant thorn in the side of our opponents and he scored his second goal in the last minute of the second half.
Apart from Noel, David Prior, Denis Cranston, Bruce Snape, Russell Clucas, Andrew Terry and Phil Younger all put in good performances.
The points table is becoming congested after today's round. QLD Ones are top with 13, WA is 11, NSW is 10 with a goal difference of +9 and ACT are fourth with a GD of +5. ACT have been the surprise packet of the championships - since we trounced them 7-1 on day 1, they have not lost a match.
Tomorrow is a rest day and our team has scheduled a training run including penalty corner practice at the Melville ground.
Our team regrouped after the shock loss to Queensland with a solid 4-0 win over a spirited WA Country team.
Goalscorers were Noel French, Kerry Wise, Russell Clucas and Bruce Snape.
Noel French, Denis Cranston, David Prior and Ron Dillon were the outstanding players today.
Tomorrow, we play the bottom side, QLD 2 and will try to improve on today's performance. Goal difference is l;likely to be a decisive factor in the placings before the semis and we will need to score as many goals as possible in the matches against QLD 2, SA and VIC.
VIC drew 1-1 with QLD in a surprise earlier today.
In the first 90 seconds of the match against Queensland yesterday a stunned NSW conceded two goals. And never recovered from that poor start. This was the first match NSW 60s have lost since going down to Victoria on day one in Canberra in September 2011.
The opportunities for QLD to score so rapidly were gifted to them by our own mistakes, twice losing possession from the hit off and then failing to trap a ball hit through our defence (goal one), and then passing to a QLD player near the circle (goal two).
Apart from those two instances the game was quite even for the remainder of the first half and for most of the second half. Both teams had one penalty corner in the first half and NSW had two in the second. All penalty corners were successfully defended.
We then conceded a third goal by back passing to open space, the ball picked up by Queensland's Greg Richards who succeeded in beating several of our defenders to score.
NSW did not play as well as they had done against WA on Tuesday and consistently found it difficult to string a set of passes together.
Bruce Snape was again our best and was well supported by Dennis Cranston, Ron Dillon and Jeff Budden. We have two players, including key midfielder Russell Clucas, who are playing despite being severely hampered by a dose of the flu.
We will now need to win all our remaining four games to make the semi-finals.
Playing hockey in bright sunshine is a wonderful experience and brings the best out of players. And so it was today when we played WA at the Perth Hockey Stadium. We expected a tough encounter, such was the respect we had for our opposition, and a very tough and tight match ensued.
Both teams played an attacking style and drew out the best that the respective defensive players had to offer. Both goalkeepers made superb saves and the one by WA's Len Collier late in the second half to deny a thunderbolt from Bruce Snape was mercurial, to say the least.
Snape was outstanding at right back and was our man of the match.
Our players took a great deal of confidence from the game because they proved that they could match it with a very good team.
The game featured excellent umpiring from International Umpire, Allen Schasser - a real boost for the players.
In other matches ACT bounced back from the thrashing that we gave them on day 1 to record a handsome victory over a hapless Victorian contingent.
On Thursday we play Queensland ones, who have had two wins so far.
Our first game of the tournament was played in bright sunshine, after clearing morning showers, on an excellent ground at Hale School. The facilities of clubhouse, canteen and change rooms were all adequate for the many players and supporters.
The first twenty minutes of our game unsurprisingly featured many loose passes, airswing tackles and a lack of movement. Eventually however, our players began putting things together and it was Dennis Cranston, at centre half, who made a great run through the ACT defence to win a penalty corner. Skipper, Bruce Snape, then scored the first goal of the match with the conversion.
We were, simply, the better side - ACT had two very strong players in Peter Shepherd and John Nicholas but their work load told during the second half - they could not be everywhere. Doc Terry scored a fine goal after intercepting a clearance and slotted a shot from the top of the circle. Kerry Wise also scored in the first half.
Throughout most of the second half our dominance was evident with Rusty Clucas, David Prior and Phil Younger finding good touches. Rusty scored his second goal of the match with a superb tomahawk, Bruce also completed a double with a second penalty corner conversion. The seventh goal was scored by your scribe with a neat flick on a penalty corner.
ACT found a few holes in our play late in the game, scoring a goal as tired clearances from our players did not find the intended recipient. John Williams was called upon to make several good saves in the final few minutes.
John McDonald, Ron Dillon and Jeff Budden all had sound games in defence.
This match against ACT proved to be a good warm up for the tournament, tomorrow's game requiring a higher intensity. We play the home team, WA , who gave the WA Country boys a hockey lesson later in the day.