Hockey fairytale snuffed out
By TONY WHITE
A FAIRYTALE first State hockey title narrowly slipped from the grasp of the Grafton men's representative team in Newcastle yesterday.
Led by Olympic hockey gold medallist Brent Livermore, the Grafton team was beaten 5-4 in the B division final by Newcastle No.2.
"It was disappointing, very much so," team manager Chris Blanchard said.
"Tiredness and a bit of complacency crept in just when we didn't need it. The previous good form of the weekend deserted us in the final.
"The result wasn't what the team was expecting.
"At the end of the game Brent (Livermore) pulled the boys aside and told them to keep their heads high.
"They will have learned a lot about the game from the loss and there are positives to take back to Grafton with us."
Grafton had cut a swathe through their rivals in the lead-up to the final, scoring 23 goals to 3 which included a 5-2 defeat of Newcastle No.2.
Grafton enjoyed a bright start in the final leading 2-0 after goals to Peter Kelly and Mark Harris, and went into the halftime break leading 2-1.
Further goals to Kane Hancock and a double to Kelly shot Grafton to a 4-1 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
However, Newcastle fought back strongly to level before a Grafton player copped a yellow card with eight minutes remaining.
Under pressure Grafton scrambled, but Newcastle hit the winning goal inside the final five minutes.
"This is the first time a team from Grafton has made a final at State level," Mr Blanchard said.
"Hopefully we can come back next year and go one better."