Justin Donoghue puts Sailors back into attack.
Justin Donoghue puts Sailors back into attack. Shane Sedger

Open season for clubs

SAILORS have branded themselves the dark horse of the Men's' A-Grade hockey competition after a steely 2-2 draw with competition frontrunners City Bears on the Legends Field on Sunday.

Trailing through much of the match, the Sailors struck back to land a draw with Bears in a skilful display of running hockey.

Although sometimes hanging on by the skin of their teeth, Sailors successfully defended their goal and then hit back through a double from Joel Ward.

"They can definitely be the thorn in someone's side in the finals," Bears coach Peter Herden said.

"Hopefully it will be someone else's side and not ours.

"We had a few of our players coming back from injury on Sunday though, and we played a few of our B Grade players and tried a few different things in the match.

"We're not concerned at all about the draw, but there's no doubt Sailors are a side capable of causing an upset in the finals."

With only one round remaining until the competition reaches finals mode, all four A-grade sides are gearing up for the semis.

Barbarians carry good momentum into the playoffs after downing Royals 5-3. A double to Josh Wainwright and goals to the in-form Jamie Lane, Troy Urquart and Jacob Mawhirt put the sword to Royals who have struggled to contain their opposition in recent weeks.Royals stalwarts Mick Summers and Matt Lobsey combined with new A-Grade recruit Jack Taylor to keep the green machine in touch on the scoreboard, but Royals will need to lift if they are to repeat their famous finals upset of a few years ago.

With final ladder positions locked in, top placed Bears will play second placed Barbarians in the major, with Sailors to play Royals in the minor semi.

It will take three wins on the trot for either Sailors or Royals to claim an upset Grand Final win, but both clubs will believe it is still possible.

"It has been the nature of the four team A-Grade competition all year," Herden said.

"All teams will get a chance in the finals and if they hit form at the right time anything is possible."

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