GRAFTON'S hopes of featuring prominently in the inaugural Far North Coast Premier League Hockey finals have disappeared.
City Bears went down 3-2 to Northern Star in a thriller on Saturday and in doing so lost touch with the top four with one round to go.
Grafton's hopes were pinned on the Bears as the only local side so far to register a win against any of the northern rivals.
But a save on the buzzer denied Bears a draw despite earlier goals to Jacob Purser and Nathan Butterick. Meanwhile Sailors failed to hold back Easts, who moved out of Bears' reach on the table with a late 4-3 winner.
"Bears are floating around the edge of the top four, they're our big hope," Grafton Hockey administration officer Joel Ward, who plays for Sailors, said.
"Unfortunately we didn't help them out, it was up to us to beat Easts."
Sailors could be guilty of having switched its focus to the regular Grafton Premier League, which resumes this Sunday night.
"We mixed things up a bit," Ward said. "We're out of this competition now so we tried to freshen it up to come back and attack the Grafton competition.
"Josh Cumberland normally plays as a defensive sweeper. He played in attack and scored two of our goals. Kane Hancock also scored."
Meanwhile on Sunday Kieran Marshall scored the goal inBarbs Hagars' 3-1 loss to Ballina, and Michael Summers was the lone scorer for Royals, defeated 7-1 by Coraki.
"Turnovers killed us," injured Royal Matt Lobsey, recovering from a knee gash, observed.
"We played a lot better in the second half. Once we held onto the ball we created opportunities, but still need to improve our finishing."
The last round will be played on July 26 and 27.