Heroic defensive effort leads Sailors to victory over Bears
SAILORS brought City Bears back down to earth, humbling the Grafton Premier League leaders 3-1 on Legends Field on Sunday night.
Bears tried valiantly to respond late in the match, even hitting the goal structure twice, but could not break a stubborn Sailors defence.
Such was the defensive effort that it overshadowed Kane Hancock's match-winning hat-trick, with goalie Jayden McLaughan chosen as Sailors' Players' Player after the match.
"He's not our regular first grade keeper," captain Scott Smith said. "He's a young up and coming keeper from Grafton High and had a sensational game for us.
"Also Josh Cumberland played defensive midfield and in my opinion he's the most improved athlete across the association in first grade.
"He turned the ball over lots along with Joel Ward. They were both in the channels that Bears came through.
"It's great to see our young guys playing so well."
The eye-catching win stamped Sailors' claims as genuine contenders. "It's always circle to circle stuff against Bears, which is what everyone likes to see and to play.
"I think it'll be a great, close run for the title."
On the other side of the coin Bears' captain Dave Dart believed the loss could be a blessing in disguise.
"It could do us the world of good to lose one," Dart said.
"Short term pain for long term gain.
"It was one of those games the boys didn't lift."
Across on Brent Livermore Field Royals were left to curse missed opportunities before going down 5-1 to Barbs Hagars with fitness a telling factor.
"We dominated the first half but didn't take our opportunities," Matt Lobsey, who scored Royals' solitary goal, said.
"Fitness fell away and we started making bad decisions when we got tired.
"Again we're getting rolled when we turn the ball over."
Barbs were especially dangerous on the fast break, a refreshing change according to captain Josh Wainwright.
"That hasn't happened all year," Wainwright said.
"We played much better and created a little bit more space.
"Goalkeeper Ryan Creed had a really good first half while Chris Shipman and Nick Pate also played well."
Laurie Urquhart scored twice for Barbs, Charlie Towells put away his first A Grade goal while Pate and Wainwright also entered the scoresheet.