The Goulburn Geckos have long been a dominant force in the ACT Hockey Men’s First Grade competition, and they continued that form on Saturday with a 5-2 win over Old Canberrans Hockey Club to propel them into a fifth consecutive grand final.
OCHC were the team to most recently defeat the Geckos, which meant that Goulburn went into the match on Saturday with a due amount of caution.
However, with a team at full strength and in good form following a tight win over Central last weekend, the Geckos were in control of the match from the outset.
“We were dominating play but they were able to get a few breakaways, a few corners and stuff,” Goulburn coach Todd Devlin said.
This control over the match caused OCHC to sweat on Goulburn’s errors, and their sole goal in the first half came courtesy of a penalty stroke which leveled the score at 1-1.
Goulburn soon rebounded thanks to a well-played corner, and went into the break leading 2-1.
“I think, the second half the game started to open up a little bit which worked in our favour a bit, so it’s good,” Devlin said.
Play moved like somebody had pressed fast-forward in the second half. Following a gritty arm wrestle in the first 35 minutes, the second portion was much freer and saw Goulburn penetrate OCHC’s defence with impunity.
The match finished with Goulburn ahead 5-2, and in the best possible form ahead of a Grand Final clash next weekend with Wests.
“I expect it to be a really, really good game next week,” Devlin said.
“We’ve played [Wests] a few times this year, and every time we’ve played them it’s only been a goal in the game.
“We’ve had some really good tussles with them over the years … it’ll probably come down to which team is able to take their chances.”
The experience that Goulburn have gained from the last five Grand Finals will be crucial in deciding the fate of this weekend’s match.
“This’ll be our fifth Grand Final in a row that we’ve played in, I think that’s a big advantage,” Devlin said.
“I don’t think Wests have played in one for six or seven years. Having that experience and being there and being on both sides of the fence … I think that’ll help all the guys leading into the game.”