Golden run for Grafton kids at Nationals
HOCKEY: Clarence Valley hockey has plenty to be proud of as a group of emergent put the Grafton Hockey Association on everybody's lips at the week-long Hockey Australia Under 15 National Championships in Sydney.
Three members of the six-strong contingent have returned to the region sporting new medals with Elliott Speed and Jake Lambeth clinching gold for NSW State and Grace Young's State side narrowly edging out fellow Graftonite Laura Harley, and the NSW Blues, for the bronze medal.
Meanwhile Tyler Gaddes and Rhys Cropper performed more than admirably for the NSW Blues side in their first national titles in that age division finishing fifth.
It was a proud moment for Sailors junior star Speed who managed to put away the gold-medal-winning goal for the NSW side, which was his only goal across the tournament.
It was a proud moment for mother Sharryn Speed, who was sideline for NSW State's dominant run at the gold.
"They were just amazing," she said. "Their preparation was fantastic, the entire coaching staff were great. You could just see there was not a weak link in the side.
"We think there is about seven or so kids in the State side who have gone all the way through from the PSSA Under 12s side together. They definitely use that knowledge of each other when they play in these competitions."
Speed played in the midfield for the NSW State side finding his forwards with ease during the tournament, including Lambeth who managed to put away an impressive seven field goals for the unbeaten NSW side.
Lambeth was only outdone on field goals by teammate Seb Rollings (8) and Grafton counterpart Tyler Gaddes who managed to score a tournament-high nine goals from the field for NSW Blue.
Four of Gaddes' goals came in the Blues final match as the side finished the tournament on a high with a 5-3 over Queensland in what was a play-off for fifth place.
It was an impressive effort from Gaddes and Cropper, who were playing their first National Championships in Under 15s, proving the future remains bright for Grafton hockey.
While Young's NSW State side got off on the perfect footing with an 8-0 drubbing of South Australia, they came unstuck in games against both Queensland outfits to find themselves in the bronze medal play-off with Harley's Blues side.
It was only a narrow 2-1 victory for the State side showcasing the strength in both NSW outfits.
Another Clarence Valley product, Ella Gilbert also competed at the championships, representing Northern Territory.