BATHURST Souths might not have finished 2013 with the men’s Premier League Hockey trophy in their grasp, but coach Kent Bestwick still found it hard to be disappointed after losing Saturday’s grand final 3-2 to Lithgow Panthers.
Playing in Lithgow, the Panthers pushed out to a 3-0 lead with 15 minutes to go, but Souths rallied and gave their hosts a real challenge in the closing stages.
Such was the determination that Souths showed, Bestwick felt that had his men been given a handful more minutes, they would have been able to come away with the spoils.
Ultimately it was not to be. Nonetheless, Bestwick was proud.
“I am so proud of the guys the way they came back, it would have been hard to come back home having lost 3-0, people would have said that we were not ever in it,” Bestwick said.
“In the end I think if we had have had 10 more minutes we could have done it, we threw everything at it. It was just the bounce of the ball in the end, but take nothing away from Lithgow, they really pressured us for most of the match.”
In a tough and typically physical match between the pair, it took premiership favourites Lithgow 31 minutes to strike the first blow via Brandan Horner.
The goal came from somewhat scrappy play inside the circle, but it was enough to give Panthers a 1-0 lead.
It was as Souths were pushing for a goal that Panthers got the opening for their second. Quickly playing on after a penalty, the hosts worked their way inside the circle and found the breach.
From the penalty corner Horner hit the mark and, when he scored his third of the day from field play soon after to make it 3-0 with 15 minutes to go, it looked to be game over.
Both two quicks goals to Jaydem Hadson and Jono Baillie brought Souths back into the game with some nine minutes still left on the clock.
Souths were hoping to repeat their efforts of 2007 when claiming the premiership over Panthers thanks to a late rally, but this time around the hosts held on.