Tigers beat Wallaroos to notch up 15th straight title
IT'S a shame there had to be a loser.
The Granville Tigers extended their sensational premiership run to 15 straight after recording a thrilling golden goal victory over the Wallaroos in the men's grand final on Saturday night.
In arguably the greatest grand final of Maryborough and District Hockey history, fittingly, it was Tigers sharpshooter Cameron Baker who scored the match-winner in the first period of extra time to beat the Wallaroos 7-6.
Baker finished with a remarkable six goals in a match that saw 10 goals scored from corners.
Hockey fans had every reason to feel spoilt as the decider see-sawed during the match, helped by some spectacular finishing.
The Wallaroos trailed by 3-1, then seemed to have broken the Tigers with four straight goals to lead 5-3 with 23 minutes remaining.
But Aaron Kenny's men stepped up to the challenge, responding to level the scores 5-5 then surged back from a one goal deficit to send the game into extra-time.
As much as the Wallaroos pressed, their wastefulness in front of goal cost them. They failed to convert three corners before Baker showed how it was done, sending a powerful drag flick into the top of the net to break the Wallaroos' hearts.
"Our resolve and our heart was excellent," Kenny said.
"In the end, it was the determination and will to win that got us over the line.
"It was a challenging year and we've had to overcome some hurdles which makes the result a little bit more enjoyable, but you have to give the Roos credit.
"They put it to us and no team ever gave an inch. That's the way you want sporting finals to be."
After his side came the closest team in 15 years to end the Tigers' long supremacy, Wallaroos coach Tim Evans could not fault the efforts of his players.
"When you get that close to something you have been working towards for not just one year but a number of years and come up a millimetre short, it's a heartbreaking and a difficult thing to accept," he said.
"The one consolation is we didn't play poorly and gave everything we had."
With Wallaroos goalkeeper Martin Harvey the only player expected to retire, Evans was bullish about next season. "I guarantee this time next year the Wallaroos will be winning this title," he said.