Divall, Blues sure of spot in grand final

DECIDER BOUND: Rachel Divall and her NSW side will play in the under-21 national indoor grand final.
DECIDER BOUND: Rachel Divall and her NSW side will play in the under-21 national indoor grand final.

Orange’s Rachel Divall and her NSW side guaranteed themselves a spot in the Hockey Australia Under 21 Indoor Championship grand final with a match to spare on Thursday.

The Blues fought back from a goal down against the ACT at Illawarra on Thursday afternoon to win 2-1 and make it a perfect seven wins from seven matches.

The side was to take on Western Australia on Thursday night but as the only unbeaten side, NSW was already assured a spot in Friday’s decider.

After beating Western Australia on Wednesday, a game where Dubbo’s Emma Corcoran only lasted 10 minutes before requiring a trip to get stitches after copping a stick to the eye, the side came out again that night and cruised past Queensland 3-1.

As has been the case numerous times this tournament, NSW fell behind and Queensland even led at the half time break.

But NSW roared back in the second half and goals to Bathurst duo Jessica and Sarah Watterson, sandwiched by a Kiarra Marsh strike, led the Blues to victory.

On Thursday, the squad enjoyed the morning off before taking on the side from the nation’s capital in the 2pm match.

After an even battle to start the match NSW, as if to script, conceded a goal when Claudia Nielsen struck. 

But on the stroke of half time the competition leaders hit back when Riley Smith converted a penalty corner.

And rather than settle for the draw, the Blues pushed on and were rewarded when captain and Divall, NSW’s skipper, scored in open play to make it 2-1.

New South Wales will play in the grand final at 12.30pm on Friday with Western Australia and Victoria the favourites to fight for the other spot in the decider.