Sailors and Barbarians battle
IT'S a rarity in sport for a team to absolutely dominate a game and at the same time feel lucky to escape with a draw.
That was the case for Sailors on Sunday when they clashed with the consistent Barbarians.
Even though they didn't receive the maximum points, Sailors cultured display will hold them in good stead moving into the Grafton Men's Hockey A grade finals, with few teams in the comp boasting control in the midfield and speed up front.
The introduction of Scott Smith into the centre to partner Jye Reardon gives Sailors a real platform from which to make a big launch into the finals series, and they took another small step forward on Sunday with a 2-all draw against Barbarians.
In a real up-tempo game, Barbarians stuck to their game plan early with deep defence and using their brilliance up front to counter attack.
This resulted in a score against the run of play to goal sneak Brad Inmon, who finished off some brilliant, quick ball movement by young strikers Andrew Loy and Andrew Conyard after just seven minutes.
Showing added maturity, the young Sailors side continued to apply the pressure and was rewarded with a penalty corner goal to Mathew Barton soon afterwards to square the ledger.
Again on the counter-attack, Yamba-based Barbarians player Troy Urquhart tore through the defence to set up his brother Laurie to give Barbarians a 2-1 lead at the break.
This should have suited the Barbarians' style of play, with coach Peter Ryder laying down the law at halftime to make sure his charges sured up their defence and continued to counter punch to secure the victory.
Ryder's players stuck to the plan for the first five minutes of the second stanza, with the cross bar denying Josh Wainwright a goal following a brilliantly worked penalty corner.
Barbarains seemed to lose the plot from that point, playing rushed hockey which allowed Sailors to control the ball and launch attacks.
It was only the skill of goalkeeper Ryan Creed which denied Sailors turning the attacking raids into goals.
Sailors' weight of possession finally told when they took advantage of a penalty corner and scored with only minutes to go.
The final five minutes was frenzied, with Barbarians going into all-out attack mode, but Sailors' defence held firm.
The frustration was obvious and culminated with the send-off of Grant Howard.
“We were very lucky tonight,” Ryder said.
“We were dominated and our discipline was terrible. We set ourselves back a lot after tonight's game.
“We have started the season well and we have been building well, concentrating on our game and not letting the umpiring affect us.
“Tonight we lost the plot.
“We have the side to make the finals series interesting, we just have to keep our mind on the job for 60 minutes.”
In the other matches Royals exposed Coffs' patchy form with a convincing 4-1 victory in Coffs Harbour on Sunday, while the Bears continued their excellent form with a 12-0 trouncing of Avros.