TAMWORTH’S Under 18s were unable to defend the State title they won as 17s last year when Illawarra turned the tables on them in yesterday’s State Under 18 Boys’ Hockey Championship Final in Newcastle.
The best two sides last year, they were again this year, only this time it was Illawarra that claimed the silverware – 3-2.
Tamworth scored first, and then last in the first half to make it 2-all at half-time.
“It was a very tight second half,” coach Andrew Farmilo said.
“You had the feeling that whoever got that goal would get it.”
It was Illawarra, with about six or seven minutes to go.
“We probably were a bit flat,” Farmilo said.
“Defensively, we were very good but we found it difficult to get the ball out of defence and into the midfield.”
He said they seemed to panic a bit.
“They shut down a lot of our options and we couldn’t penetrate,” he said.
“We weren’t confident throwing the ball around.”
They tended to go too direct and Illawarra was able to cut them off.
“They just seemed to get a stick on everything,” he said.
Not that they didn’t have their chances, they did, but they didn’t take them, and didn’t get a lot of second chances.
“That was the thing,” Farmilo said.
“We didn’t get any second phases on our shots.”
Illawarra was able to clear it out of the circle effectively.
Earlier in the day, Tamworth had beaten Sydney 3-1 in their semi-final.
“That was our best game. We really dominated that game,” Farmilo said.
They were undefeated until the final and had little trouble accounting for Lithgow and Macarthur on Saturday.
Keeper Will Haywood didn’t even touch the ball.
Yesterday he was on fire, Farmilo said.
There was some consolation on the selection table with Will Turner, Harrison Lewin, Jack Cruickshank and Ehren Hazell named in the NSW All Schools 16s squad.
The latter three all played for the Bs on the weekend.
They beat Illawarra in their play-off match 3-1 yesterday to finish fifth overall.
“Our defence was pretty good, just our inability to score goals let us down,” coach Hayden Lewin said.
It probably cost them a semi-final spot, but did improve over the weekend.
“Our conversion rate on short corners was better,” Lewin said.
“Against Sydney (Friday) we had 10 short corners and didn’t put any of them in.”
“Against Newcastle (Saturday) and Illawarra we were more successful on our shorts.”