ORANGE Waratahs have held on to win consecutive Australia Day Football Cups, coming from behind to defeat the Deaf Football Australia outfit in a penalty shoot-out thriller.
Played on Australia Day afternoon before a vocal crowd at Waratah Sportsground, the two budding rivals capped off a week’s worth of pre-season football with Waratahs winning the shoot-out 3-0 after scores were locked at 1-all at the end of regular and extra time.
Waratahs keeper Adam Brakenridge said Saturday’s final was one of the hardest pre-season games his side would experience.
“It’s good to get another win,” Brakenridge said with the 3-0 penalty shoot-out win making it two from two on Australia Day for the Orange-based Western Premier League outfit after last year’s more comfortable 5-0 win over the Aussies.
“They came out really strong, a lot stronger than they did on Wednesday night [3-1 loss] and last year. Most of us were pretty tired after four days of football.”
Coming out a team on a mission, Blayney product Mark Davis kick-started the Deaf Football Australia side’s crack at victory with the first goal of the match.
The 1-0 advantage enjoyed by the Aussies wasn’t countered until 15 minutes before full-time when a Tim Curran header found the back of the net for Waratahs, levelling the scores at 1-all.
But nothing could separate either side at the end of both regular and extra time.
Forced to a penalty shoot-out, disaster struck the Deaf Football Australia side as none of its first three attempts at goal found the back of the net and all three of Waratahs’ penalty attempts did, netting the home side back-to-back trophies.
Brakenridge praised the work of fullback Dave Bouffler while midfielders Curran and Craig Sugden also shone throughout the final.
He added the football played over the last week had set Waratahs up for a big 2013.
“There’s still plenty we can work on, though,” he said. “All of the second grade boys who got an opportunity really stood up and that’ll put plenty of pressure on us in first grade. We’ve laid some pretty strong building blocks for the year ahead.”