THE temperature had cooled down slightly by the time the Barbarians Hagars took the field against City Bears in the Countrylink A-Grade men's hockey grand final on Saturday night but the on-field action was just reaching boiling point.
The two best club sides in Grafton settled down to a fast and furious premiership decider, which kept the umpires busy controlling the intensity of the clash.
The match eventually fell in the favour of the Hagars with a 2-0 scoreline, but not before some thrilling and nerve-wracking moments for the large crowd.
"The house was packed and both teams began at a feverish tempo, probing the opposition defence for any sign of weakness,'' match reporting officer Stephen McIlveen said.
"The game was see sawing during the opening part with both sides having opportunities to score, and whilst the Hagars seemed to have the best of the attack at the half way point of the first half, there was little separating the two teams early.''
Both teams were marking each other heavily as any loose player could prove fatal to the other side's premiership hopes.
"It took until two minutes before half-time for the Hagars to breakthrough," McIlveen said.
"A great pass from Grant Howard found Troy Urquhart in the circle, and he managed to sneak it past the Bears' goalie Aiden Cameron, who had pulled off some top saves earlier in the match."
The teams went to the rooms at with the Barbarians leading 1-0, and they had barely returned the field after the break before the scoreboard ticked over to 2-0.
"It was barely game on, and the Barbs got on the attack again,'' McIlveen said.
"A rocketing Josh Wainwright cross to Brad Inmon in the circle went directly at the Bears keeper, but shortly after, a penalty corner to the Barbs resulted in a brilliantly executed goal to Laurie Urquhart from a set move.''
The second goal forced the Bears to up the tempo, and with Barbs playing a "classy'' game of hockey, McIlveen described the spectactle as "sheer entertainment." Bears went on a counter attack and penetrated the Barbs circle but for no result, with two drag flicks from Bears short corners being saved by Barbs goalie Robert Hull - who was awarded the club's goalkeeper of the year award.
"It was a seriously high standard of hockey, but at the end, the Bears just didn't get much luck and the Barbs were too slick and made the most of their opportunities," McIlveen said.