SERVICES Workies upset minor premiers Kiwis to make it four straight Tamworth men’s first grade competition titles yesterday.
The defending champions played some brilliant hockey on their way to a 3-1 win.
They’d had to slog it out against Tudor West in extra-time last weekend to make the decider but played with a lot more precision and, from Isaac Farmilo’s 15th-minute strike, were never headed.
“It was an outstanding effort today,” Workies coach Simon Massey said.
They had a couple of good opportunities early and were unlucky not to be 1-nil up after 10 minutes, with Ryan Martin’s backstick flick hitting the top post.
Farmilo though converted a few minutes later off a quick switch play from a penalty just outside the circle.
Kiwis had a couple of good breakaway opportunities to level off but the final pass just didn’t quite stick and then were almost two behind when Ryan Saban took the ball off them coming out of defence.
He drove to the circle and had the shot but it was brilliantly saved by keeper Martin Courtney.
The rebound fell to Farmilo, who cracked the ball at the goal, but a backtracking Lindsay Burrows got there just in time to make the save.
Kiwis had a chance late in the half to equalise after getting in behind the Workies defence and creating a two on one.
But Dan De Wit was strong in defence and able to stop the two players linking up to see Workies take a 1-nil into the break.
They came out strongly in the second half and Martin must have been wondering what he had to do to score when, despite the attention of two defenders and Courtney, he managed to squeeze a shot away only for it to skim the post.
But a few minutes later Chris Ninness managed to reel in a great cross from Martin to put Workies 2-nil up.
Josh Worpel finally got Kiwis on the board with a well-taken drag flick but Workies were quick to re-establish a two-goal buffer with Sam Liles flicking the ball over Courtney’s head after he’d saved the initial shot off a corner.
They were very damaging on the breakaway, creating several chances with quick release through to their strikers.
“The pressure we put on their defensive end was good. Quite a few times, we broke them down coming out of defence,” Massey said.
“Ryan Saban’s work-rate at centre forward was really good.”
He felt they had significantly more opportunities than the three goals they scored.
Last year they didn’t concede a goal in the grand final, and their defence was again strong.
“They defensively broke us down at the back a few times but I felt our scrambling defence was good,” Massey said.
“But we weren’t forced to scramble too much.”
De Wit and Alex McKenzie were both strong at the back, while Liles was outstanding in the centre.
It was a disappointing finish to a season of so much promise for Kiwis.
“We didn’t play very well but I don’t think we were allowed to play that well,” Kiwis coach Greg Doolan said.
Where Workies really closed them down was in the midfield.
“Our work-rate (also) wasn’t high enough,” he said.
They also made too many turnovers, which Workies punished them for with their quick transition.
“Their strikers were a little bit quick for our outside halves,” Doolan said.
Still, he thought it was pretty even until the last 10-15 minutes, and was rueing their inability to convert when they got the ball in the circle.
“We probably didn’t get enough outcomes out of our circle penetrations,” he said.