Despite their 3-2 loss to Central on the weekend, the Goulburn Geckos remain confident of a top four finish to the season.
The Goulburn Hockey Fields hosted a thrilling match on Saturday, in which the Geckos mounted a comeback after a slow start which allowed Central an early lead.
Though there was not enough time for the home side to level the scores, co-coach Scotty Grant praised Goulburn for its tenacity in defence early.
"They're a very structural team, they play pretty solid around the back and they have a pretty handy midfield," Grant said.
"I thought we defended well and scrambled in defense, and if it wasn't for Daniel McPherson in the net, they probably could've been two or three goals up pretty early in the first quarter. He's a very handy keeper, you can see why he represented Australia.
"We cracked under pressure a couple of times there, but we regrouped at quarter time and half time, and towards the end I thought we were nearly on top of them."
Saturday's match was the third time Goulburn and Central have met this year, and none of their clashes has been decided by more than one goal.
In a season where the Geckos were not sure they would even have a team, Grant is thrilled to see they can still hang with the top sides in the competition.
"We lost a few of our elder players this year and we've got a really young group," Grant said.
"We set goals at the start of the season to get a team on the paddock and be competitive. And then we started doing that, so we set some more goals to hopefully finish top four. And if we do that, we make finals and it kind of starts all again."
As the table currently stands, Goulburn is a very strong chance of finishing in the top four.
The Geckos have won 10 games this season and lost six, which has them in fourth place and comfortably ahead of St Patrick's in fifth.
This achievement is particularly remarkable considering Goulburn's slow start to the season, in which they lost three of their first four games.
Since round four, the Geckos have won ten matches and lost just three, and Grant believes the team can even push for a place in the grand final should their best team take to the field.
"I think we can, if we get everyone on the field fully fit and full strength, I think we can really push it with the good sides," he said.
"We know we can compete with the top teams, it's just learning to make sure we absorb that pressure and get over the top of them."
But before they look ahead to the finals, four rounds of the regular season remain, and Goulburn will face its old nemesis, Wests, this weekend.
The reigning premiers have won the Canberra competition for the last two years, and will pose a serious challenge as Goulburn looks to become just the second team to beat them all year.
The match between the Geckos and Wests will take place this Saturday, August 7, from 1.30pm at the Goulburn Hockey Fields.
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