Six-shooting NSW escape
IT TOOK a last-gasp goal for the all-star NSW team to avoid defeat to arch-rivals ACT at the Australian Indoor Hockey Championships on Friday.
In a likely preview of Sunday’s final, it was left to Wollongong’s Australian representative Simon Beaton to convert a penalty corner, leaving a 6-all deadock.
Pre-game, Kookaburras player Glenn Turner had joked he would offer some heavy hits to former housemate and Albion Park star Kieran Govers during the contest. Instead, he punished NSW on the scoreboard, scoring a first-half hattrick to put ACT ahead 3-2 at the break.
Remarkably, NSW equalised on six occasions, as Rio Olympian Blake Govers finished with a double, while Flynn Ogilvie earned a second-half goal and a yellow card.
Chasing a ninth consecutive Australian indoor crown, a shot at World Cup spots, to be picked later this year, adds another element to the Wollongong tournament this year.
NSW and ACT each have three games to play on Saturday, before Sunday afternoon’s final. But barring a capitulation, they are almost certain to meet again in the decider, after NSW dominated the second half last year to seal a 7-3 title triumph.
Ogilvie is now locked in a battle with ACT duo Turner and Ben Staines for the competition’s leading goalscorer prize, at six each.
Blake Govers and Jack Hayes are among those in hot pursuit.
Earlier, NSW produced a dominant 9-1 victory over Victoria.
Showing all their firepower, the Blues scored six second-half goals, with Hayes finishing with three and Ogilvie a double. It came as Western Australia have taken a stranglehold on top spot in the women’s tournament, also played in Wollongong on Friday.
The women’s team made it four in a row after piling on 10 goals against Tasmania, then outlasting Victoria to win 3-1.
It puts them a game clear of NSW, after beating the Blues 4-3 on the opening day.
“It was a lesson for us,” NSW star Emma McLeish admitted. “But we’ve responded pretty well.”
NSW bounced back to be Tassie 12-nil, before toppling Queensland 2-1 on Friday. Queensland beat NSW in last year’s final 5-3.
“It was good to get one back on them,” McLeish said.
“It was a pretty tight contest, but we worked really hard in the second half after being down 1-nil.
“We created a lot of opportunities, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
NSW had 15 shots to six, as Rachel Divall and Caitlin Burns converted.
The NSW women face their own tricky match-up against the ACT, as well as a tussle with Victoria in a bid to secure another finals berth on Sunday.
- AUSTRALIAN INDOOR HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Illawarra Hockey Centre
Women: WESTERN AUSTRALIA v SOUTH AUSTRALIA (9am), ACT v NSW (10am), QUEENSLAND v WA (1pm), VICTORIA v NSW (2pm) , TASMANIA v QUEENSLAND (5pm), VICTORIA v SA (6pm).
Men: WA v ACT (8am), NSW v VICTORIA (11am), QUEENSLAND v ACT (12pm), WA v VICTORIA (3pm), NSW v QUEENSLAND (4pm), ACT v VICTORIA (7pm), NSW v WA (8pm).
Sunday: Women 1.30pm, Men 2.45pm