DEJA VU: Action from the 2017 GHA Under 16 grand final. Both Elliott Speed (Sailors) and Rhys Cropper (Royals) will be in action again today.
DEJA VU: Action from the 2017 GHA Under 16 grand final. Both Elliott Speed (Sailors) and Rhys Cropper (Royals) will be in action again today. Shirleyanne Thompson

Junior decider set to be the best ever

HOCKEY: Royals Jets will be shooting for back-to-back Grafton Hockey Association Under-16s premierships, but it will be far from easy for the side as they go up against a dominant Sailors Bean Scene.

While it is a replay of last year's Under-16s decider at the Clarence Valley Regional Hockey Complex, the tables have been turned this season, with the defending premiers going in as underdogs.

But that is not a worry for co-coach Caleb Blanchard after the side pulled off a comfortable preliminary final win over Bears this week.

"The guys had a really good training run earlier in the week, and an even better win, so we just want to keep that momentum going into the big one,” Blanchard said.

"While there is a few fresh faces in the team this season, myself included, we still have the same core group who know what it takes to win it all.”

ON THE BURST: Royals' Jake Lambeth looking for an opportunity during his team's loss to Coraki.
ON THE BURST: Royals' Jake Lambeth looking for an opportunity during his team's loss to Coraki. Shirleyanne Thompson

The Royals side has been anchored by State representatives and regular senior first grade players Laura Harley, Rhys Cropper and Jake Lambeth this season.

The trio have been willing to share their knowledge, and help develop the young players rising through the ranks around them.

But Sailors Bean Scene have State representatives of their own in Harry Watts, Elliott Speed, Sherryn Thompson and Ashleigh Ensbey.

Add to that mix the club's brick wall in goals Cody Hinterholzl, and it is not hard to see why the Sailors outfit only lost one game all season.

POWER MOVES: NSW Representative Harry Watts has been fighting well above his size in senior hockey this season. But this Saturday, the Sailors star is back in junior action in the Under 16 grand final.
POWER MOVES: NSW Representative Harry Watts has been fighting well above his size in senior hockey this season. But this Saturday, the Sailors star is back in junior action in the Under 16 grand final. Shirleyanne Thompson

With momentum on their side the word from coach Darryl Clark this week has been about keeping relaxed.

"If these guys just go out and play their natural game, they will be hard to stop,” he said.

"It is mostly the same side as last year, and I know a few still feel the pain of that loss, so they will be keen to reverse that.

"But they just need to keep cool heads and play their style. There is a lot of talent in this match, on both sides.

"This could potentially be the best grand final of both weekends.”

GRAND FINAL DAY SCHEDULE

Brent Livermore Field

9.30am Div 3 Girls

SGPS Cubs v GPS Rainbows

10.30am Div 2 Girls

Sailors Lightning v Sailors Thunder

11.45am U11's Boys

Royals Rockers v Sailors Kookaburra

1pm Div 1 Girls

Sailors ESPresso v GPS

2.15pm U13's Boys

Sailors Allstars v Royals Rangers

3.30pm U16's Boys

Sailors Bean Scene Cafe v Royals Jets

Sailors Bean Scene.
Sailors Bean Scene. Contributed

Royals Jets.
Royals Jets. Contributed


SLOW TRAFFIC: Truck accident Gwydir Highway

SLOW TRAFFIC: Truck accident Gwydir Highway

Truck accident on Gwydir Highway

ULMARRA COMMUNITY: 'We won!'

premium_icon ULMARRA COMMUNITY: 'We won!'

Conclusion to the long story of a community who refused to give up

How the Ulmarra campaign achieved its goal

How the Ulmarra campaign achieved its goal

Timeline of the Let's Not Wait Ulmarra campaign

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