Barbs step into unknown in hockey semis this weekend
BARBS Hagars are ready for a defining moment in Grafton hockey when they take on Ballina in the Far North Coast Men's Premier League Hockey semi-finals this Sunday.
The side is fresh from a 5-0 thumping of Sailors in the local competition in which captain Josh Wainwright banged home three goals and Chris Shipman and Sam Blanch one each.
In the second season of the inter-district concept, Barbs will be the first, and only, Grafton side to feature in the finals after finishing second on the table.
"It was a goal of ours to make the finals," Wainwright said.
"We had quite a few players out yesterday but still got the job done."
It was the first game Barbs were without brothers Troy and Laurie Urquhart, who are gone for the remainder of the season as they travel overseas.
Wainwright was full of praise for some of the youngsters who filled the void in the top grade.
"We would've enjoyed them here but we've got to move on and come up with something different now," he said.
"Kyle McIlveen played a full game in both grades. He's been playing off the bench for us and had his first full game yesterday, stood up and did his job well.
"Reece Gaddes is another who has played off the bench and will get his chance."
Barbs host Ballina in Premier League and Coraki in Reserve Grade.
"We beat them over there and they beat us at home so it's one-all at the moment," Wainwright said.
Meanwhile, City Bears narrowly missed the finals in Premier League but will take on Ballina this Saturday in Reserve Grade.
Two of their players, Dave Dart and Michael Russ, have a busy schedule which includes playing in Ballina, driving to Newcastle for Sunday morning training for their respective NSW Masters sides and, for Dart, driving back to Grafton in time to see Carl Barron at the Saraton Theatre on Sunday night.
Bears bounced back into form in Premier League on Sunday with a massive 7-1 result against Royals.
"I don't know where that come from," a stunned Dart said.
"It started off pretty even, but this year the team that gets the early momentum seems to kick on and run away with it and that's what happened on Sunday.
"Except for Sam Young, Royals had a full-strength side and had all their big guns. But everyone from our side played really well.
Justin Alford, Jacob Purser and Brayden Lollback all found their names on the scoresheet and were all standouts in Dart's eyes.