As a result of the three games played in the last round of Capital League 1, Goulburn maintained their top of the table status and took out the minor-premiership for 2016 without taking the field. With Checks drawing with Central, Goulburn and Old Canberrans both ended the season on 43 points but Goulburn finish in first position as they won 14 games to Checks’ 13 during the regular season. For the first time in a recent years, Central relinquished the minor premiership and finished in third place on 42 points. With their win on Saturday, Wests leapfrogged St Pats into fourth place on 32 points. St Pats finish in fifth place for the second year in a row, this year with 31 points, followed by United (26 points), Albury (22 points) and Tuggeranong on one point.

Round 21 results
United 13 def. Tuggeranong Vikings 0
Wests 4 def. St Pats 1
Old Canberrans 1 drew Central 1

United plunder Vikings with a goal scoring spree
United continued their late season goal scoring form with another 13 goals to overwhelm bottom placed Tuggeranong Vikings. United warmed up for their final game of the season with an impromptu game of footie among the sprinklers while the Vikings went about a more traditional process of jogging and stretching at the other end of the field before beginning their pre-game hit-up. It quickly became evident that United’s warm-up routine had them well and truly primed for a big day when Aaron Knight scored from a penalty corner flick in the first three minutes. By half time they had extended their lead to 6-0 with three more goals to Knight and a goal each to Harry Deane and Craig Dent, the latter with a brutal tomahawk from the top of the circle which he celebrated rapturously, having scored his first goal of the season.

United were in an upbeat mood at half-time evincing a relaxed and somewhat light-hearted demeanour in their sideline bunker. It proved to be justified as the second session was little more than a training run as they took total control of the game and left Tuggeranong floundering and unable to find an adequate response to the onslaught. Two quick goals to Knight got the United team off to a perfect start and took his tally for the game to an impressive 6 goals! Other scorers for the half were Jeremy Hopkins with two goals while Iain Davidson, Tom Deane and Stuart Shepherd scored one each. They ended this game with 52 shots on goal – a testament to their domination. That they scored 13 goals only from this level of penetration bespeaks of the exceptional courage and quality of Tuggeranong’s goalkeeper James Lawrence who bravely endeavoured to staunch the flow of goals but was let down by his team’s inability to maintain control of the ball and sustain possession. If United continue to develop this attacking formation, they are going to be a definite candidate for the finals next season.  Goalkeeping should not be a problem, but their back line may prove a greater challenge as a leaky defence was their real weakness early in the season. The Vikings have much to ponder as they review their season and prepare for their next campaign.

Wests leapfrog over St Pats into the final four
St Pats, almost certainties for a place in the finals just a few weeks ago, have seen their season end after dropping to fifth at the last hurdle. Their slide continued in Round 21 when they were outplayed by a well-organised and committed Wests’ team which controlled the tempo of the game throughout. Wests opened the game with purpose and their pressure bore immediate fruit when Niranjan Gupte stormed into the circle and powered a shot at goal. Andrew Stead made sure and deflected the ball into the net. St Pats responded quickly with a series of forays including a Josh Chivers tomahawk which sailed high over the net. They were back on even terms when undaunted by the pressure around him, the flamboyant Jack Wallace took responsibility for his team with a desperate dive to direct the ball into the net. Wests’ patience and rekindled sense of purpose were manifest as they grew in confidence on the ball in defence and midfield and waited calmly for openings. Their composed approach frustrated St Pats into rash tackles which resulted in inevitable sanctions. Late in the first half, Wests took the lead with an Elliott Christian penalty corner flick which gave the St Pats’ keeper no chance. Wests led 2-1 at the break.

Wests gave an unsubtle message that they intended to play the game in the St Pats’ defence at the resumption when their first play had the ball flicked deeply into St Pats’ left side defensive corner. They pressed St Pats who had difficulty getting the ball into midfield as they were forced into error or had to resort to long passes which were easily controlled by the Wests defence. When they did manage to penetrate, St Pats’ forwards were wayward with their shots on goal spraying harmlessly wide or over the net. They were to pay dearly for their wastefulness. In the 53rd minute, Garry Backhus continued his rich vein of form when he intercepted a St Pats pass and found Adrian Hall who made no mistake. Wests’ quick midfield passing was complemented by a telling patience on the ball in deep defence. Both aspects of their game plan were stunning to behold as they frustrated their opposition which spent long periods without possession. Late in the game, Wests made it safe when their tempestuous attacking midfielder Matt McLaughlin scored with a shot from the top of the circle to give his team a three goal advantage and a place in the finals. Having played each of their last three games knowing that a loss would end their season, Wests have proved that they can play under pressure and this may auger well for them in their semi-final campaign. St Pats must feel chagrined that they have let slip an opportunity to participate in the finals, a prospect which seemed inevitable just a few short weeks ago.

Old Canberrans come from behind in a stalemate with Central
Both teams went into the final round game of the season late on Saturday afternoon with a single aim – to win the encounter and take out the minor premiership. In the end, neither side achieved their desired outcome. Central went into this game without Dan Hotchkis due to a leg injury. He sustained the injury last week and to some extent his work rate and clever ball running were missed as they struggled to finish off any real opportunities in what was a pleasingly much improved and staunch Checks’ defence. Checks began brightly and had the ball in the net in the first minute only to have the goal rejected by the umpire for dangerous play. At the other end, Central responded with Checks’ keeper Mark Ross called on to make a point blank save and then watch a Troy Sutherland thunderbolt beat him only to hit the post and rebound harmlessly over the side line. Late in the half, Sutherland was again denied by Ross after Matt Hotchkis and Jarred Brown had split the Checks’ defence. The teams were locked at 0-0 at the break.

Central started the second session brilliantly and were ahead immediately after the resumption with a well worked penalty corner variation, converted by Chris Jorgensen. Playing with more intensity, they seemed inspired by this lead and dominated as Checks struggled to finish off their attacking opportunities. Midway through the half, the sides were again on even terms, when Checks’ indefatigable Lewis Shepherd superbly controlled a flick cleared from his defence and with clever stick work, rounded the defence to score. Both sides raised the tempo as they searched for the winner. Central’s Sutherland hit the post yet again and at the other end, James Day gifted birthday boy Lewis McLennan with a brilliant pass but his shot went wide. With less than a minute remaining, and with no lack of colourful, passionate and at times anxious vocal support from spectators, Dan Borrett received the ball and from a narrow angle, his shot hit the cross bar – with much anguish from supporters and players at one end of the field and relief at the other.

The 1-1 draw was probably a good reflection of the game. Both sides will now turn their attention to the finals starting next week – with Checks ending the season in second and Central in an unaccustomed third position .


About The Author