Rocky Red go down fighting in Qld challenge grand final
INDOOR HOCKEY: Rockhampton Red finished runners-up in Division 2 at the Queensland under-13 girls challenge played at CQUniversity.
The home team fought valiantly but was beaten 3-1 in the grand final by the Gold Coast Breakers, the same team with whom they played out a thrilling 2-all draw in the round games.
Coach Jeff James was thrilled with the performance and said the girls could all be very proud of their efforts over the weekend.
The team went through the round games undefeated, registering five wins and a draw to book its place in yesterday's final.
"It was a great effort but unfortunately we came up against a team that was better on the day,” James said.
"Every one of the players put in, we scored some great goals and they played well as a team.
"The most pleasing thing was the way they just kept playing and playing and playing.
"We built from the start to the end and got better with every game.”
Rockhampton Black, which coach Brian Crozier said was the "youngest team by far” at the challenge, finished last in Division 2 but was far from disgraced.
The majority of the players were aged 10 and 11, with goalkeeper Grace Lloyd-Jones the youngest at nine.
"They didn't win a game but they played exceptionally well for their age,” Crozier said.
"They learnt so much and they took it all on board.
"We can take a lot of positives from this, and it looks good for the future given all the girls are so young.
"They all played well and it was a pleasure to coach them.”
Rockhampton Red and the Gold Coast dominated Division 2. They both finished equal on points and just one goal separated them on for and against.
Rockhampton was keen for a strong showing in front of their home crowd but it was Gold Coast who struck first in the final, scoring in the first two minutes.
Rockhampton soon found their rhythm but despite some sustained pressure on their rivals were unable to level the scores in the first half.
Gold Coast started the second stanza the way they did the first, scoring early, this time just 40 seconds in.
Rockhampton worked hard and were back in the contest when Sophie Hammond scored a field goal.
Despite pushing hard for an equaliser, it was the Gold Coast who found the net again to seal the win.
James said Storm Duke, Chanel James, Sophie Parker and Sophie Hammond were among the Red team's best, while Crozier said Lloyd-Jones, Amy Woods and Jorja Hutley stood tall against more senior opposition.