KIWI Diggers became the second team to lift the Northern Hockey Premier League silverware after toppling minor premiers Armidale City in Saturday’s final.
Kiwis surged to the title 4-2 to claim their first piece of silverware since 2006.
The home side struck first but Kiwis replied with three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead into the break.
“The score stayed that way until five minutes to go when we went 4-1 up,” Kiwis co-coach Greg Doolan said.
“They then scored their second with 40 seconds to go.”
Doolan said was it was a good competitive game and felt their defence was what won it for them.
“We defended as an 11-man defence really well,” he said.
They really limited City’s opportunities and didn’t allow them many clean runs into the circle.
Their midfield was also excellent, led by Antony Doolan and Josh Worpel.
“Antony and Josh in the midfield were excellent and created a lot of opportunities,” Doolan said.
“In the first half we put those opportunities away.”
He’d said leading in they had to use their midfield, and they did.
“We controlled it from the back forward,” he said.
Doolan (Antony) had missed their last game against City and his return allowed them to push Matt Johnston forward.
“That gave us more strikepower,” Greg Doolan said.
City was the opposite. It was without Dean Waters for a lot of the game, which meant it had to push Ben Hanlan back into the midfield.
It wasCity’s first defeat for the season and was a story – among other reasons – of missed opportunities.
“We only had two short corners for the whole match and we didn’t convert any,” City coach Blair Chalmers said.
“They had four and converted two.”
He was pretty happy with their defence.
“I was reasonably happy with the way we kept them out of the circle,” he said.
The other end was where their problems were.
“We were in the circle a bit but didn’t get the result,” he said.
He said four or five times one of their strikers had the ball on their stick and either sprayed it wide or got tackled.
“We had been working on our striker movement,” he said.
“Again we got sucked into getting a bit narrow when we got into our attacking 23.”
There wasn’t really one standout, but Chalmers thought keeper Will Brissett was one of their best.
“He defused a couple of great opportunities Kiwis had by coming out and meeting the attacker at the top of the circle or pushing them wide,” he said.
Both now have their respective finals campaigns to concentrate on.
City is straight through to the Armidale grand final in a couple of weeks.
Kiwis will play Services Workies next week for a spot in the Tamworth decider.
The Tamworth women’s minor and major semi-finals were played yesterday.