Hockey: Waratahs make it two in a row

Two in a row: Waratahs celebrate back-to-back Tamworth women's first-grade titles after their three-goal win over Flames on Sunday.

Two in a row: Waratahs celebrate back-to-back Tamworth women's first-grade titles after their three-goal win over Flames on Sunday.

Waratahs saved their best until last to defend their Tamworth womens first-grade title on Sunday.

After breaking through for their maiden premiership last season, the Graeme McKenzie-coached side made it two in a row with an upset 3-nil win over minor premiers Flames.

Underdogs going in, Waratahs produced undeniably their best performance of the season.

"It was a very, very thrilling win,” a delighted McKenzie said.

It was a win built on commitment and defence. 

"The defence was absolutely outstanding today," he said.

They just hassled Flames and were prepared to do the work.

“The commitment from the midfield was fantastic and the back three – Tayla (King), Georgia (White) and Maddie (Powell) were fantastic.” 

“Maddie deadset had her best game all year.” 

He had tweaked a few things structurally and tactically after their four-goal major semi-final loss.

“What we tried to do is force them to shift the ball to different parts of the field and then throw a lot of resources in there,” he said.

It worked well with Flames’ players finding themselves surrounded by two or three defenders whenever they had the ball.

Like they did two weeks ago, they had the better of the early stages.

“In the first few minutes we actually weathered a bit of a storm, they had us under the pump,” McKenzie said.

“Then we got ourselves in the game and we started to dominate and got a lovely deflection in.” 

Bianca Pieper got that about 10 minutes in. It remained the only score of the first half, skipper Katrina Rekunow extending Waratahs lead nine minutes into the second half.

Flames then had a succession of corners over the next 15 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net. 

After withstanding the barrage, with just over five minutes to go, Pip Ash, on her knees, deflected the ball in,to put it beyond Flames reach.

McKenzie couldn’t have been happier with all their efforts but did also make mention of Abigail Doolan, Rekunow and sister Tahlia and Maddie Cryer, who despite some protesting, even at half-time, to go back to striker, had an outstanding game as an inner.

For Flames it was one of those days.

“Nothing went right for us,” coach Barrie Pritchard said.

That was partly their own creation.

“One of the things I said to the girls before the game is we’ve got to have quality in the circle and around the circle,” he said.

They didn’t have that. Their corners were ineffective for them and their passing game wasn’t effective.

“We weren’t getting to the ball first. That was a big problem and our constructive passes to put us away wasn’t happening,” he said.

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