LUNGE: City Bears' midfielder Eli Fahey tries to find a teammate upfield during the Grafton Hockey Association Premier League clash between Royals and City Bears.
LUNGE: City Bears' midfielder Eli Fahey tries to find a teammate upfield during the Grafton Hockey Association Premier League clash between Royals and City Bears. Shirleyanne Thompson

Fast finishing Bears steal second spot on ladder

HOCKEY: City Bears stormed home in the final 15 minutes against Clocktower Hotel Royals to ensure the momentum was on their side heading into the Far North Coast Premier League semi-finals.

The win also allowed Bears to avoid a semi-final match-up with the in-form Coraki this weekend after they finished second on the Premier League ladder, one point clear of semi-final rivals Northern Star.

But it was almost not to be for the City Bears side who trailed Royals by a goal for most of the contest on Brent Livermore Field.

With more than six players out of the clash, and several key players not arriving until after the first whistle, the Bears got off to a slow start, giving up a short corner goal in the opening 10 minutes.

But the side managed to hang in the clash, not allowing Royals to get out of reach, before they came home with a wet sail late in the contest to clinch the 3-1 victory.

"It is always good to get a win over Royals, but at this time of the season it is especially important,” Bears coach Rick Sampson said.

"We didn't want to be playing Coraki and we have avoided that, it is also huge to have that extra momentum.”

Sampson chalked the win up to a solo showing from midfielder Hugh Cameron, who showed great energy to get involved at both ends of the field.

"Hugh was absolutely electric out there,” Sampson said. "He was chasing the ball all over the field. He was making massive tackles at one end, before turning up to score goals at the other. It was a huge effort.

"We hung in for most of the game which was the main thing, and we got the result because of that.”

Stand-in goalkeeper Paul Stapleton made sure the Citry Bears didn't lose touch with their rivals, with several full-stretch saves keeping the side in the contest.

Royals, who were also missing key players including captain Matt Lobsey, will now need to regroup ahead of their toughest challenge of the season against Coraki at Hepburn Park.

The semi-finals will take place on Saturday, with the winners going through to the interdistrict grand final on Sunday at a venue yet to be confirmed.