By Adam Clifford
NSW Pride have defended their inaugural Sultana Bran Hockey One League Men’s title with a 2-0 win against the Perth Thundersticks courtesy of a world class tomahawk goal from Ky Willott.
In reaching the summit, the Pride had knocked out minor premiers Brisbane Blaze on Saturday and returned with a gutsy defensive display to keep the Thundersticks scoreless.
The opening quarter belonged to Perth who forced Pride goalkeeper Ash Thomas into a string of clutch penalty corner saves from Thundersticks flicker Cambell Geddes.
The Thundersticks momentarily thought they’d breached Thomas’ defence when Liam Flynn had a flick turned in off Pride defender Ryan Proctor, but it was rightly ruled out for being too high from the first attempt on goal.
It was the wakeup call the defending champions needed as they counter punched with Willott’s bullet reverse stick strike from the baseline.
The Kookaburras squad member then effortless stroked home his conversion attempt to put the Pride 2-0 to the good 23 minutes into the match.
Perth lifted their levels but couldn’t find any luck with Jake Harvie’s tomahawk shot turned onto the crossbar by Flynn from close range.
The second half was a cagey affair, with NSW Pride forced to defend deeply at times, but with Matt Dawson and Dylan Martin leading by example the Thundersticks could find no way back into the clash.
“It’s unreal…it was well documented that we couldn’t win after losing three in a row so it was great to come out and get the win,” said victorious NSW Pride captain Jack Hayes.
“We spoke about only needing one or two chances. Perth came out really strongly and thankfully we managed to get it done.”
“A lot of us have played together since we were 12, so to win the trophy in 2019 and win another one now is unreal.”
“It is always tough losing three in a row but we had the belief…we got the job done early enough in the season to be here on the weekend and we knew we were good enough. We arrived in a Bendigo a few days early and just got to work.”
Perth Thundersticks 0
NSW Pride 2 (Willott 23’/23’)
Umpires: Zeke Newman & Daniel Johnston
Perth Thundersticks Men’s Team: 1.Chris Bausor, 2.Will Battistessa, 3.Tim Geers, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Bryn de Bes, 6.James Collins, 7.Tyler Lovell (gk), 8.Brodee Foster, 10.Tom Wickham, 11.Tom Harvie, 13.Cambell Geddes, 14.Liam Flynn, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 21.Ross Hall, 24.Matt Willis
NSW Pride Men’s Team: 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 6.Matthew Dawson, 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathaniel Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 19.Thomas Brown, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 25.Jack Hayes (c), 26.Ehren Hazell, 28.Sam Gray