HUGE efforts from Orange duo Rachel Divall and Madie Smith helped the NSW under 18 girls’ hockey team to a silver medal in last week’s Australian Championship Trophy at Melbourne’s State Netball Hockey Centre.
Attempting to defend its 2013 championship NSW dominated the pool stage of the competition, romping home against Victoria Whites (8-nil), Western Australia (4-nil), Victoria (3-1) and Tasmania (4-nil), while also defeating fellow Orange player Chloe Barrett’s NSW Blues 2-nil to finish first in pool A.
The top two sides from pools A and B progressed through to the trophy finals series, while the bottom three competed for the plate.
An 8-nil victory over ACT in the semi-final had NSW poised to complete the most commanding championship victory in recent memory, but a rampant Queensland lineup put paid to those thoughts with a clinical 5-2 win in the final.
Barrett’s NSW Blues, the state’s second-string, development team, started the competition in the worst way possible, suffering four consecutive pool defeats to Tasmania (2-1), NSW (2-nil), Queensland (5-nil) and Western Australia (1-nil) before overcoming Victoria 3-2 in the final round robin game, to finish fifth.
The Blues defeated Northern Territory 2-1 in the plate semi-final, but due to their small goal differential were unable to qualify for the final, instead making the third place play-off.
The goal differential worked in the Territory’s favour however, allowing them a second crack at Barrett’s side in the play-off.
Barrett and her teammates produced a clinical performance though, again winning 2-1 and securing bronze.