Sandgropers win the gold in Over 35s

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
WA’s Andrew Smith goes toe-to-toe with Alan Charlton in the middle of the pitch.
Camera IconWA’s Andrew Smith goes toe-to-toe with Alan Charlton in the middle of the pitch. Credit: Justin Fris

WA claimed the Over 35s gold medal after defeating NSW 2-0 via a sudden death shootout at the Bunbury Hockey Stadium on Sunday.

Tied at two-all heading into the shootout, the Waratahs missed all four one-on-one attempts in front of goal, with WA goalkeeper George Watts imposing himself fantastically between the posts.

The hosts began the match like a whirlwind, with Jason Black netting a tidy finish for the Sandgropers in the fourth minute.

Extremely compact in defence, WA maintained a determined rearguard despite NSW creating a hatful of chances.

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The best of these efforts fell to Theo Gruscha, who rounded several WA defenders and appeared to have a solid run on goal, but narrowly dragged his shot wide.

Gruscha’s effort was followed by a solid attempt from Troy Sutherland, who found himself in a quality position following a short corner.

Unfazed by several near misses, NSW secured a richly deserved equaliser in the third quarter, when Lee Brady hurled himself goalwards off a penalty corner and drove his effort cleverly into the net.

The home side managed to regain ascendancy in general play, with Andrew Smith particularly lively in the middle of the pitch.

This dominance was rewarded seconds out from three-quarter-time, with Aaron Batten curling his shot past Waratahs goalkeeper Daniel McPherson.

With time running out, NSW turned the screws to find an equaliser, with Simon Beaton aiding their plight.

Following a well-worked penalty corner, Beaton latched onto the ball and effortlessly glided his shot past a resolute WA defensive line.

Despite sporting a sizeable bruise from a shot on his stomach, Watts proved an immovable object for NSW in the shootout.

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