Battle to the end in hockey
IT TOOK a day of battles to finalise all of the teams playing in today's Hockey Coffs Coast grand finals.
The tightest of last week's contests was saved for last with Bellingen taking on the ever improving Urunga in the Division 1 women's preliminary final.
Bellingen brought its well-developed passing game, highlighting the pedigree and history of a team which has finished at the top of the table or near it in recent years.
Standing in their way was an energetic and highly determined Urunga team.
Neither team wanted to play the other team's game, instead trying to force the other to succumb to their rules of engagement.
The result was a scoreless first 30 minutes, even though a high volume of scoring opportunities were created throughout.
Both teams had patches of dominance over the other with strikers from both teams feeling the pain of missing chances.
It wasn't until the 15th minute of the second half that the deadlock was broken.
It took six penalty corners in a row for Urunga to finally find the back of the net with the ball falling at the feet of Hannah Ford after a scramble in front of the goalmouth, giving her the easiest of finishes to put the Stingrays in front.
The lead was short-lived however with Bellingen's ever-reliable Karen Briscoe taking possession of the ball five minutes later on the left edge of the circle, finishing with a solid shot through the legs of Urunga's keeper Rhiannah Neaves.
That was enough to force the game into extra time.
After an extra time period each of 9-on-9 and 7-on-7, neither team were able to find the net again, ending the game 1-all and Bellingen progressing to today's big match.
"Even though it's a tough pill to swallow, being knocked out but not actually losing, the girls played their best hockey of the season,” Stingrays' coach Phil Jackwitz said.
"The girls were asked to bring an improved game each week all year and they've done that.
"What coach can be unhappy with that?”
Bellingen will meet Southside in a repeat of the major semi-final and last year's grand final in what should be the contest of the year.
In the Men's Division 1 preliminary final, Urunga took a little time to find their rhythm but once they found the net, they never took their foot off of the accelerator, running out eventual winners 6-0.
Urunga will meet Beaches Green today in a major semi-final re-match to see who will claim the Division 1 title.
HOCKEY GRAND FINALS
Under-13s - 10.15am: Urunga v Beaches
Under-16s - 11.20am: Urunga v Beaches
Div3 Women - 1pm: Orara v Urunga
Div2 Men - 2.15pm: Southside v Beaches
Div2 Women - 3.30pm: Orara v Bellingen
Div1 Men - 4.45pm: Beaches v Urunga
Div1 Women - 6pm: Southside v Bellingen