Tamworth’s under-18 boys team have marked the end of an era with a dramatic, last-minute win over the Country composite side at the state age championships in Sydney.
Both teams were keen to finish the tournament on a winning note after a hard fought few days of quality water polo against some of the strongest sides in the state.
“Every game the boys played they showed improvement, culminating in a great win in the last game,” Tamworth coach Sean Hofman said.
Tamworth opened the final match with a pop-up from Will Clinch at centre forward and then he followed it up with a backshot to take the Tamworth out to a 2-0 lead.
James Newberry consolidated with a beautiful seven-metre shot which rocketed into the back of the net.
Country regrouped and fought back in the second quarter to take the lead 4-3, but Tamworth countered with with a sharp goal from Isaac Moxon and then a classy lob shot from Clinch that found the net.
One of the highlights of the game was brilliant goalkeeping from Tamworth’s Lachlan Nihill, which included two five-metre saves.
The Tamworth boys went into the third quarter all squared up at 5-5.
The action went goal for goal in the third quarter, with Isaac Moxon driving home from distance before providing a beautiful cross pass to Pat Hofman, who slammed the ball into the back of the net.
An extra-man goal and another lob-shot goal from Clinch kept Tamworth in the game after some solid counter attacking from Country that resulted in a 9-9 scoreline in the fourth quarter.
With just 50 seconds left on the clock, Tamworth were given a five-metre penalty shot after Country had made an illegal substitution. Hofman stepped up and slammed the shot home to give Tamworth the win.
There was a bit of nostalgia about the tournament. For many of the boys this will be their last representative trip away before entering the open age group.
“Mocco and I have been playing together since 2009,” Hofman said. “And with Newberry, Wheeler, Mitchell and Clinch, we have played together as a rep team from the under-12s up.”
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