Grafton?s gold strike
By TONY WHITE
THE three-day Hockey NSW State Under-15 boys' Championships at Grafton Hockey Centre last weekend provided a gold medal-hunting ground for our local teams.
Grafton entered two teams and both were crowned state champions.
Grafton number ones scored a convincing 4-2 victory over Wagga in the B-division final and Grafton number twos went through its round robin series undefeated scoring 12 goals in five matches.
The gala event was contested by 30 teams from north to the Queensland border to Wagga in the south and Dubbo out west.
More than 350 players and officials took part with around 1000 people, including families, descending on Grafton for the annual tournament.
The number ones were coached by David Dart.
Ironically, Wagga, who defeated Grafton 4-3 in a close pool match and topped the pool, both made it to the final when the Grafton lads lifted to reverse the earlier result.
Drew Cooper scored twice in the final and further goals to Ryan Cameron and Mitch Lollback gave them the trophy.
"It was a great team effort," Dart said.
"Defence was our strong point. After Wagga beat us in the pool match the boys were determined to turn it around in the final."
Quinten Percy and Reece Henwood were standouts during the tournament. Percy, Henwood and Cooper have been nominated for the NSW Under-15 team, which will be announced at a later date.
Number twos coach, state representative Michael Wunderlich, said his team deserved praise for its attitude and outstanding play, particularly remaining undefeated on Sunday after having the title wrapped up by Saturday evening.
They beat Illawarra 2-nil, McCarthur number two, 3-2, Mid-North Coast 2-nil, Far North Coast 1-nil and Tamworth number two, 4-2.
The side was managed by Peter Gibbons and Wunderlich's wife, Sharon.
David Gibbons was voted the team's player of the tournament, Andrew Conyard won the coaches' award and Adam Wunderlich the manager's award.
Michael Pole, in only his third year playing hockey, scored his first goal at state level and Dylan Keats and Andrew Phelps were also consistent goal scorers during the tournament.
Daniel Mathers was strong in defence and Mitchell Thomas creative at centre-half.
Other results were: Newcastle beat Illawarra in the battle of the 'steel cities' 2-nil in the A-division final and Coffs Harbour beat Penrith 3-2 in extra time in the C-division.
Grafton Men's Hockey (GMH) life members Janet Gould, Vic Wunderlich, Bruce Cahill and Pat Connelly, presented trophies to the divisional winners.
GMH president Chris Blanchard said the tournament was an outstanding success, he thanked the local volunteers and said he received positive feedback from Hockey NSW officials and visitors.