Souths women, Wanderers' men win hockey grand finals
IN THE Rockhampton Hockey Association's (RHA) A1 men's grand final at Kalka Shades on Saturday, Wanderers made short work of Southern Suburbs. So short, in fact, the game was effectively over and in the bag for Wanderers in just the eighth minute. They went on to win 3-1.
In so doing, Wanderers won their 11th straight RHA title and took out the 2015 triple-crown, winning the Dunlop Trophy, the CQ League and the RHA premiership. Wanderers were also named 2015 club champions
"Winning all three is always our goal and we did it," Wanderers player-coach Aaron Harmsworth said.
Wanderers started the match at a frenetic pace. Within two minutes, key striker Todd Harmsworth scored and six minutes later, young fellow striker Jackson Willie made it 2-0.
Southern Suburbs were shell-shocked and never looked in the match from the eight minute mark, two goals down.
"We banged in two goals in the first eight minutes and that kind of did them," Harmsworth said.
"It was a great way to start and from there it was pretty much our game."
Late in the second half, Andrew Landsberg scored Wanderers' third and that looked the likely final score. But the match had one final twist.
With only one and half minutes of play remaining, Wanderers' goal keeper was sent off for using his pads outside the circle. Wanderers quickly padded up a field player as a makeshift goalie and seconds later Southern Suburbs Rob Petersen had put one past him for a late consolation goal.
But it wasn't all Wanderers. In the earlier women's A1 final, Southern Suburbs defeated them 4-3 on penalties after it was locked at 1-1 at fulltime. In a low-scoring match, there were no goals for more than 50 minutes of action. Then there were two goals in as many minutes.
Southern Suburbs coach Brett Connor said the grand final lived up to expectations.
"It was the final everyone was expecting and it didn't disappoint," Connor said.
"It really showed how evenly matched the two teams are. It was a real arm wrestle and it was one of the best women's hockey games this season."
It was a gripping contest in the first half, despite the lack of goals, as the teams went to the break 0-0.
At the half way mark of the second term, Wanderers broke the deadlock to take a 1-0 lead. And it was crunch time for Southern Suburbs. They did not wilt ... they rallied.
"When Wanderers scored, it was a pivotal part of the game," Connor said.
"At that point, the girls really lifted and we scored the equaliser quickly, within two minutes. There is always a risk when you go a goal down that the players' heads drop and you can't play yourself out of the game.
"But we didn't do that. We all lifted our intensity and our workrate and to equalise so quickly really helped us steady."
And Southern Suburbs needed steady nerves as it went to penalties, which they won.
"Everyone on our team played well," Connor said.
"It was a team win. Everyone did their job, we all backed each other up.
"We maintained our discipline, we lifted when we really needed to and we never gave up."
It was Southern Suburbs' first RHA premiership in five seasons.