Barbarians, Coffs pull off huge upsets

IF it was a horse race stewards would be asking for 'please explains' with the two red hot favourites to contest the 2009 Grafton Men's Hockey A grade grand final both getting flattened on the same day.

Barbarians, who have not been playing well of late, sprung the upset of the season with a nail-biting 2-1 victory over defending premiers City Bears, while Coffs Southside hammered Sailors 7-0.

Everything went to script early for Bears, with the evergreen Dave Dart showing why he is still one of Grafton's best strikers with a well-worked goal in the 13th minute.

Even with representative Bears striker Mathew Harmon unavailable for the match, most in the crowd thought it was a matter of by how many the Bears would win.

Barbarians' form of late has been average, but their standout player of recent weeks, young centre-half James Callaghan, inspired his team through a brilliant solo effort in the 22nd minute to equal the score.

Barbarians consolidated and went back to what they do best - strong defence and speed on the counter attack.

These tactics stifled the confident Bears attack and created a stalemate of sorts until Barbarians veteran Ray Loy scored a goal against the run of play.

Loy, a defensive midfielder who hasn't scored a goal since Noah was in shorts, shocked his teammates with a 30-metre run and goal to secure the 2-1 victory.

Meanwhile, Sailors, touted as title contenders, had been flying leading into Sunday's clash with Coffs Harbour with draws against Bears and Barbarians and victories against Royals and Avros.

On paper they looked absolute specials against an unpredictable Coffs Harbour outfit.

Southside were missing gun striker Kurt Morris, a massive blow to their structure, forcing coach Wayne Edwards to think outside the square.

He went to Reece Edwards and asked for the impossible -'get free and carve up the ever reliable Sailors defence'.

Edwards was outstanding, playing a role in every attacking play and led his team to their best performance in 2009, thumping Sailors 7-0.

Chris Herraman was outstanding on the end of Edwards' lead-ups, netting three goals.

The ever-reliable Tim Anderson was outstanding in the midfield and his skill overhead is the best in the competition.

“This is the best display of hockey we have put in all year,” an ebullient Edwards said post-match.

“Our defence was solid and our goal-scoring was freakish at times. We aren't getting carried away at the moment because we need to be producing this type of effort week in, week out.

“It was a huge effort today; we only had 11 players against the fittest team in the comp. We have been playing well of late, but falling over when it counts. We finally clicked - how good was it.”

In the other A grade game Royals defeated Avros 6-1.

• THE Grafton men's over-50s team won the B division state title at Tamworth on Sunday.

Grafton won the final 4-0 against Coffs Harbour, finishing the tournament undefeated with 16 goals for and only one against.

Dave Morrison was the weekend's leading goal scorer with six, but missed out in the final. Neville Lollback and Barry Livermore scored two each in the decider.

• ON the housekeeping front, Avros' big reunion dinner is coming up on the June long weekend at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club at 6pm.

It's had a great response from former players and the committee is asking for everyone to get their RSVPS in by tomorrow as numbers are filling fast.

The men's association is organising a heritage round for July 25. It is returning to Saturday afternoon hockey, just like the old days.

A barbecue will be in operation all day and a few refreshments will be available. All players are asked to dust off the old shorts and strips and there is bound to be a few pool cleaner moustaches in play. It should be a good day out and the opportunity to make a great Saturday night out.

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