The Queensland Blades took the Australian Hockey League (AHL) title after defeating SmokeFree WA Thundersticks 1-0 in the final. A late goal of Troy Elder gave the Queensland team the victory in this prestigious hockey league.
It didn't come easy though for the Blades, the Thundersticks putting up a great challenge and coming close to winning on many occasions.
From the first whistle the Thundersticks attacked the Blades, reversing the tables and challenging them physically as they've challenged all the teams they've competed against this week. With the dour defense of Player of the Series, and 2006 Kookaburras Player of the Year, Bevan George, combined with fellow Kookaburra Aaron Hopkins it was a great challenge as one of the strongest backlines in the league took on the premier forward line.
Like battering rams they clashed, the Blades continually driving forward, the Thundersticks continually repelling their thrusts. It was a great spectacle in front of the strong Perth crowd.
The Thundersticks weren't without their chances either, their movement and creativity in attack causing trouble for the Blades in the first half. The West Australians had more of the ball but just couldn't break the solid Blades' defense, lead brilliantly by Player of the Final Mark Knowles.
Deadlocked for 68 minutes, the game looked like going into extra time until the Blades earnt a penalty corner in the 69th minute. Co-captain, Troy Elder, did as he did last year against the MIA Tassie Tigers and delivered the winner, his low flick beating the keeper on the left post and getting Queensland over the line for the fourth time in five years.
Queensland deserved their win today after clearly being the best team all week, while the Thundersticks' performance, pushing them to the limit, has shown they deserved their second placing.
And while the Blades will be celebrating long and hard into the night, the Scorchers will be preparing to follow suit when the women's competition starts on Monday. They'll have some tough challengers though, including last year's champions the SmokeFree WA Diamonds.
1. Queensland Blades
2. SmokeFree WA Thundersticks
3. Victoria Vikings
4. MIA Tassie Tigers
5. Adelaide Hotshots
6. Northern Territory Stingers
7. NSW Waratahs
8. Canberra Labour Club Lakers
Player of the Final - Mark Knowles (QLD)
Player of the Series - Bevan George (WA)
Leading Goalscorer of the Series - Marcus Richardson (TAS).
Source: Hockey Australia
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