Early losses prove decisive, but Orange men finish on a high at state championships

IN THE THICK OF IT: Hayden Dillon was a key player for Orange in the Hockey NSW Open Men's Division Two State Championships. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

IN THE THICK OF IT: Hayden Dillon was a key player for Orange in the Hockey NSW Open Men's Division Two State Championships. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

HAT-TRICKS from Daryl Kennewell and Lewis Mike on Monday secured Orange a 9-3 win over Grafton (2), ensuring the side’s 2014 Hockey NSW Men’s Open Field State Championship division two campaign ended on a high.

Unfortunately, though, for Orange, the big victory didn’t count for anything.

One of the early favourites in Pool B, Orange finished its pool stage of the championship in third spot after suffering losses to Nepean (1) and Newcastle (2).

Orange player-coach Adam Hurford said his side’s campaign was unhinged slightly by a shoulder injury to star forward Michael Dillon, but ultimately little errors at crucial moments cost Orange any hope of competing at the business end of the championship.

“We never really played that badly,” Hurford said.

“We had a tough time against Nepean and we probably didn’t play as well as we would have liked, lost that game (3-2) and that put us behind the eight ball a bit from there.”

Orange then lost 4-2 against Newcastle (2), all but sealing the side’s fate.

A dominant 6-0 win over New England kept Orange in the hunt for a top two berth, but an equally impressive 5-0 Nepean (1) victory over Crookwell ended that ambition.

Left to contest the third versus third play-off, Orange, albeit a little too late, showed what it was capable of with a comprehensive six-goal thrashing of Grafton (2) in Monday’s final game.

Switching the side’s defence and attack, Kennewell bagged three goals, as did Burwood Briars recruit Lewis Mike, while Hurford hit home two winners and Zac Royal nailed one in Orange’s 9-3 victory at Broadmeadow.

“If only we’d started that way,” Hurford joked.

“We revamped it a little bit and reversed the positions. It was just a bit of light fun, that last game, and I think the boys enjoyed it.”

With a number of men’s Premier League Hockey players at the state championship with Orange, Hurford added the run would help Wanderers’ 2014 cause immensely.

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