Men's PL4 Grand Final Win - Full Report
Men's 4th Grade: Back to Back, We Faced Each Other
Two teams lined up on Saturday to take hold of the highly coveted Premier League 4 trophy and the eternal glory that comes with it. 10am; Olympic Hockey Pitch Terrain; weather: hot; wind: plentiful; credit to the boys: full; Kirk's hair tied back; Stibby more tape than man.
The Sydney Uni 4th Grade juggernaut were fighting the fatigue of a season and a half on top of the league with targets on our back and Father Time glaring impatiently at the core of over fiftys directing the game. In order to defend our premiership from last year and go back to back we had to stare down an opposition who gave body to the ghost of our season prior.
With a pair of major scalps on the way through the finals; this season's lowest qualifier Sutherland were looking to our Premiership run from last year as inspiration to complete their trifecta of top teams and take the silverware south for the summer.
The first clear observation of the game was that it was hot out there. Exhaustingly so. Perplexingly Sutherland opted against using their young quick forward line to tire our defence and adopted a defensive holding pattern for the majority of the game. This allowed Uni to take charge of the opening exchanges and dominate the midfield however this sustained period of pressure for the first twenty minutes yielded few scoring opportunities.
Towards the back end of the half the sun began to sink it's claws into the Uni defence and Sutherland managed to cause a few headaches on the counterattack. The best of these chances was a 1 on 1 with the keeper which was expertly diffused by Sri in a game defining defensive play. This gave Sutho confidence to press strongly on Uni's back line until a steady stream of strong and accurate overheads from aerial maestro Crabby released the pressure and had us moving forward once more.
Heading into the sheds at 0-0 at half time saw many nervous faces as we had lost a few tight tousles toward the back end of the season. Despite this; with our bogey team and minor premiers, Easts, sitting at home counting their missed opportunities we remained the favourites for the second 35 and we were determined to create and convert our opportunities.
The first such opportunity came to the stick of team manager Rowan whose clinical finishing the week prior had seen us through to this match. A strong shot from a tight angle rattled the side netting but the cheers of the raucous Uni crowd were muted as it was realised that the ball had hit the out side of the goal.
Having been kept quiet for the finals series to date it was Stibby who looked most likely next to score. He ramped a slick deflection into the keeper but soon after would make no mistake on a low, hard touch on a short corner variation. His signature celebration of both arms raised high (presumably to give the impression of being taller) was projected from the big screen and Uni led 1-0 with 19 minutes remaining.
Now chasing the game, Sutherland abandoned their defensive mindset and looked to push higher and impose themselves on the match. This left them vulnerable to a counter and, aided by the odd missed trap from the defence, the People's Champion Kirk Lewis picked up a long ball 30 out and still with plenty to do.
He skinned two defenders with previously undemonstrated pace and rocked the ball onto his preferred back stick side to tango with the keeper. Showing uncharacteristic restraint during 'Tomma Time' the ball was swept beautifully into the backboard and Uni had the game by the scruff of the neck and were not prepared to let go.
Uni showed our trademark composure defending the 2-0 lead and the thousand games strung together by the backline proved definitive in the end with a clean sheet proving just reward for their efforts.
So Uni 4s went back to back with an identical 2-0 score line to last year. Thanks to all the supporters who made the trip out to the game. Your cheers picked us up throughout the match and sharing the celebrations with you made them all the sweeter. With the Womens 3's scoring their third consecutive premiership it's now up to Men's 4th Grade to dream for four.
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