NSW Pride are the inaugural Sultana Bran Hockey One Men’s Champions after defeating Brisbane Blaze 8-3.
The win caps off a remarkable season for the Pride, who went through the competition undefeated to claim New South Wales’ first national men’s hockey title since 2005.
Tim Brand scored a first half hat-trick to set the Pride on their way before they piled on five goals in the last quarter to stamp themselves into the history books as the first winners of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League.
The match started at a frenetic pace, NSW Pride winning a penalty corner inside the opening 90 seconds but Blaze goalkeeper Mitch Nicholson made a fine save low to his right as the Pride fired an early warning shot.
After successfully defending one, the Blaze then capitalised on their first penalty corner, Joel Rintala hammering his drag flick into the bottom left corner to opening the scoring.
But the lead lasted barely two minutes as Tim Brand found himself unmarked in the attacking circle and produced a quality finish giving Nicholson no chance. The striker then stepped up and successfully slotted home the bonus conversion opportunity and it was 2-1 to the Pride.
On the stroke of half time a well worked move from the Pride found Tom Craig on the left and his cross found the stick of Brand, the ball managing to find its way through a crowded goal area and finish in the net.
But this time Brand failed with his conversion opportunity to leave the Pride with a two goal advantage at the main interval.
A yellow card to Lachlan Sharp left NSW pride a player short and with seconds left in the third quarter Corey Weyer had a golden chance for the Blaze but Ash Thomas produced a sharp reflex save from close range to maintain the two goal margin.
Early in the last quarter the Pride made Weyer and the Blaze pay when the ball found its way to Jack Hayes who clinically beat Nicholson. The Pride midfielder converted the bonus one on one opportunity and the score was suddenly 5-1 leaving the Blaze with a mountain to climb.
The score then blew out to 7-1 when Flynn Ogilvie scored his own quick fire double with under six minutes to play.
Weyer cut the deficit to four goals when he struck from open play and made the conversion, but it would not spoil the NSW Pride party as Kurt Lovett iced the cake in the final minute to round off the celebrations.
Reflecting on what the NSW Pride had achieved across the season, Head Coach Brent Livermore was full of praise for his playing group.
“They are a bunch of talented guys. I think what it showed is what happens when they pull together as a team and know what it takes to work for each other rather than a bunch of individuals,” said Livermore.
“We had a game plan that we worked with throughout the eight weeks and for the players to execute it and realise the importance of playing for their team mates was amazing.”
“I think there were a lot of opportunities for both teams. Their (Brisbane Blaze’s) radar was off a few times and our defence stood strong like it has for the whole campaign.”
“The score did blow out and the result was probably a bit flattering but it was a tough battle and we just had to win our one on one contests and overcome them.”
Olgilvie, who was named best afield, tried to fittingly sum up what the Pride had achieved.
“It feels incredible. I think we kept building throughout the season, we set our structures and were really solid on them, and I think that was a big part of what got us through at the end,” said Ogilvie.
“In terms of achievements this is pretty big. I’ve played in the old Australian Hockey League for seven years and didn’t get a chance to win one, so to win it now is amazing and great for New South Wales.”
NSW Pride 8 (Brand 9’/9’/30’, Hayes 48’/48’, Ogilvie 55’/55’, Lovett 60’)
Brisbane Blaze 3 (Rintala 7’, Weyer 57’/57’)
Saturday 16 November 2019
State Netball and Hockey Centre, Melbourne
NSW Pride Men’s team: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (GK), 6.Matthew Dawson, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 12.Kurt Lovett, 18.Tristan White (c), 19.Jack Hayes, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 24.Dylan Martin, 28.Sam Gray, 29.Timothy Brand
Brisbane Blaze Men’s team: 2.Shane Kenny, 3.Corey Weyer, 5.Scott Boyde, 7.Joel Rintala, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Robert Bell, 12.Jake Whetton (c), 15.Justin Douglas, 16.Tim Howard, 19.Blake Wotherspoon, 23.Daniel Beale, 26.Dylan Wotherspoon, 27.Jared Taylor, 32.Mitchell Nicholson (GK)