Waratah FC has won its way into the Orange and District Football Association grand final on the back of an incredible Craig Sudgen hat-trick on Saturday, downing Barnstoneworth United 4-0.
However, Tahs skipper Ryan Sinclair said the win could have been as much as five or six nil if his side had taken all their chances in the first half, in an ominous warning to grand final opponent Millthorpe.
After 15 minutes of back and forth, Sinclair said the side “worked our way in” and Sudgen scored his first goal from the near post and it slipped past the keeper to open the accounts.
“I was always confident if we scored the first one we would be able to go on with it,” Sinclair said.
Tahs went into the break 1-0 up, and wasted no time doubling their lead with Sudgen scoring quickly after the break from a free kick.
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“He put (it) down and kicked into the back of the net while they were still assembling their wall and it was allowed,” Sinclair said.
From there, Waratahs were determined to keep a clean sheet and continue pressing and not “shut up shop”, which the side did, with Sudgen adding a third goal and Tim Kelly chiming in with one of his own.
The wet and blustery conditions on Saturday didn’t impact the game from Sinclair’s point of view, saying his side adapted “pretty well” to the soggy field.
Remarkably, Sinclair said it was the first time this season Waratahs have had a full roster available.
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“It was our first week with a full-strength side, we were confident we would go well,” Sinclair said.
Having all players on deck made a difference, we were only missing three of our older players to injury.
“A lot of it has to do with scheduling, we had a lot of Sunday games and Friday night games,” he said.
“With a Saturday competition a lot of the guys had organised to have their Saturdays free and were working or with family on other days, and then you add injuries and it all sort of adds up.”
Waratahs have had an unusual year with scheduling, and while all other clubs also played equal numbers of Sunday games and some Friday nights, none have to contend with the selection issues Tahs will have this Saturday.
Both the over 35s and A grade final will start within 15 minutes of each other, and with Waratahs having sides in both those deciders and players who have played nearly every game with both sides, the club will be forced to decide who plays with which side.
“It’s a bit odd,” Sinclair said of the game clashes.
“We’ll make a decision a bit later in the week about who plays where.”
However, ODFA’s Glenn Harpley said the club made no request to avoid a clash for the weekend’s games.