Western Australia has closed out the final Australian Hockey League with victories in both women’s and men’s classification matches on the Gold Coast.
With Australian Hockey set for a televised revamp of its national competition in
2019, the Gold Coast Hockey Centre played host to the last ever finals format of the AHL competition.
With both the WA Diamonds and Thundersticks having been
eliminated at the quarter-final stage, bragging rights and final rankings became
the focus across the remainder of competition.
SA Suns 2 (3) (Grist 15', 60') WA Diamonds 2 (4) (Broek 58' PP)
The WA Diamonds claimed fifth spot in the women's
competition after edging a see-sawing contest that was decided by the dreaded
Emerging WA keeper Aleisha Power was largely the hero for
the victors, saving two field conversions and then shining during the shootout.
SA's Emily Grist opened the scoring on the cusp of
quarter-time, although Power thwarted her field goal conversion attempt.
The Suns held the lead until the final three minutes,
when Roos Broek put WA ahead during their PumpPlay.
However, Broek couldn't put WA in the clear, when SA
keeper Ash Wells denied her conversion attempt to keep it 2-1.
SA had one last sting, when Grist scored again with 11
seconds left to play. Grist could have won it for the Suns but Power ensured it
went to a shootout by saving her conversion.
In a see-sawing shootout, both sides traded goals, until
Kathryn Slattery converted in sudden death, with Karri McMahon denied by Power,
settling the win and fifth spot for WA 4-3.
NT Stingers 2 (Wallin 29’ PP) WA Thundersticks 3 (Gavranich
5’, 5’, Harvie 11’)
An entertaining match in sunny conditions at the Gold
Coast Hockey Centre saw the WA Thundersticks defeat the NT Stingers 3-2.
The victory was the first for Western Australia at the
Australian Hockey League Finals weekend and secured them seventh position in
the standings. The Stingers finish in last place.
The Thundersticks opened the scoring when Jason Gabriel
got on the end of a long pass on the keepers right side, a clever assist meant
that Dane Gavranich had all the space in the world to score the goal. He went
back and converted with a sweep past NT goalkeeper Adam Luck.
Jake Harvie took possession off a long pass late in the
first term, gathering and running the ball baseline he was able to dupe the
defenders around him and slot the goal into the backboard. A well defended
conversion attempt by Luck forced Harvie to shoot wide.
Tall forward Ewan Wallin brought the Stingers back into
the game just before halftime when he bustled his way into D and scored a
brilliant field goal during his sides PumpPlay.
Thundersticks keeper Tyler Lovell proved tough to beat a
second time when he pressured Wallin into sending the shot wide.
Despite a scoreless second half the intensity lifted in
attack, Harvie had a number of chances for Western Australia while Wallin
looked like he could hit the scoreboard at any moment for the Stingers.
In the medal matches, the NSW Arrows claimed the women’s
title with a 7-6 win over the Queensland Scorchers, whilst in the men’s final,
Queensland turned the tables with the Blades defeating the NSW Waratahs 5-3.
The Canberra Strikers collected bronze in the women’s
third place playoff over the Victoria Vipers and the Tassie Tigers scored a
single goal victory over Canberra Lakers in the men’s third place playoff.