Grafton U18 boys go for gold at NSW Hockey championships
HOCKEY: The Grafton Hockey Association Under-18s representative team returned from the NSW Hockey Field State Championships in Lismore last weekend with a gold medal.
The team started the tournament in excellent form. After a slow start against Canberra, the boys racked up a big 6-0 win to find their feet.
Grafton then backed it up with a 13-1 win over Port Macquarie, 8-1 win over Newcastle and a 6-0 victory over Parkes.
Reaching the semi-finals on top of Pool B of Division 2, Grafton squared off against second-placed Pool A side Bathurst.
Coach Rick Sampson said the boys were on a mission and after leading 4-0 after four minutes, went on to take out an 11-0 win to reach the grand final.
Sampson said the Grafton team entered the grand final as red-hot favourites after the pool games and semi-finals win, but there were still some nerves around the team.
"Parkes came out fast and physical again but could not penetrate our solid defence,” Sampson said.
"The Grafton team went into the half time break leading 6-0. The third quarter only saw the one goal from Parkes.
"Grafton finished the final quarter with four goals giving them the spoils with a 10-1 win.”
Sampson said current NSW under-18 players Jake Lambeth, Tyler Gaddes and Rhys Cropper along with Athlete Acceleration Program players Tyler Mcgarvie, Riley Power and Elliot Speed, were instrumental in the team's success and showed great leadership in helping the other players in the team.
"Our defence was very solid for the whole carnival. We only let in four goals over the weekend,” Sampson said.
"Grafton's attack was lead by Tyler Gaddes and Rhys Cropper's drag flicking from penalty corners and saw the strikers and midfield all contribute to scoring a massive 54 goals over the championship weekend.”