NSW up for Brisbane test in Hockey One men’s finale

Alex Mitchell |

Ehren Hazell of the Tassie Tigers (l) and NSW Pride’s Tom Craig fight for possession in their semi.
Ehren Hazell of the Tassie Tigers (l) and NSW Pride’s Tom Craig fight for possession in their semi.

A dream three-peat for NSW is on after the Pride beat the Tassie Tigers in their Hockey One semi-final.

NSW will play Brisbane Blaze in the grand final after the Blaze who scraped past HC Melbourne in a remarkable penalty shootout they eventually claimed 10-9.

The defending champions, the Pride got four goals from Kookaburras centurion Blake Govers to move past the Tigers in a 6-2 triumph.

The talent-laden NSW team claimed the past two versions of the tournament in 2019 and 2022.

Govers completed a hat-trick in the second term as the Pride jumped to a 3-1 lead, and they put the foot down late to run away with the comprehensive win.

The Tigers rode their luck on the way to the finals after winning just two of six regular-season games, but were right in the contest when down 3-2 in the third quarter before falling away late.

“It was a bit disappointing we couldn’t overcome it a bit earlier but we defended well enough to keep them out and ended up running over the top of them,” Govers said.

“”They got under our skin a few times … that disrupted us for a large part of the game and kept them in it.

“”The first one fell to me nicely and it’s always good to get a few early as it gives you confidence for the rest of the game.”

NSW goalkeeper Ash Thomas produced a classy save to deny a conversion attempt from Tassie’s Gobindraj Gill to maintain his side’s 3-2 lead, before Govers’ vital penalty gave them breathing room.

Closing in on the impressive third straight title, Govers put their success down to their off-field relationship as much as anything.

“We are all really close mates and love playing for each other, we love this culture, we want to uphold what we deserve and that’s performing,” he said.

Brisbane needed the epic shootout to get past Melbourne after a 3-3 draw in regular time, with keeper Mitchell Nicholson standing tall to deny Connar Otterbach in the decisive moment.

The Blaze’s Daniel Beale then hammered home the winner, after his side had twice had to convert penalties to keep the shootout alive.

Brisbane striker Scott Boyde, who nabbed a third-term double, said a tight encounter was always on the cards.

“That was exactly what we expected from them, they’re a grinding sort of team … we probably didn’t execute some of the things we talked about beforehand,” he said.

“We’re coming in (to the final) as underdogs, NSW have been playing really well all tournament … we already know what we’ve got to do, it’s about our game and executing what we’ve got in front of us.”

Melbourne wouldn’t have reached the shootout without a string of stunning final-quarter saves from Kookaburras keeper Johan Durst.