CHAMPIONS: Meteors celebrate after a 4-1 win against Sparks in the 2019 Gladstone Hockey Association A1 Men's grand final.
CHAMPIONS: Meteors celebrate after a 4-1 win against Sparks in the 2019 Gladstone Hockey Association A1 Men's grand final. Contributed

Meteors survive a scare to claim A1 crown

HOCKEY: There were heroes on both sides but only one side could be crowned champions as Meteors survived a massive scare from Sparks to win the A1 Men's grand final.

While the full-time result favoured Meteors 4-1, coach Shannon Bobart was full of praise for Sparks, who gave his highly fancied side a run for their money.

Leading 2-1 at half-time thanks to a Mitch Ryan double, it took Meteors until the fourth quarter to score again with Hayden Pease claiming his side's third before Ryan's third goal was the icing on the cake.

 

Meteors Mitch Ryan in the A1 Mens Hockey Grand Final
HAT-TRICK HERO: Meteors' Mitch Ryan in the A1 final. Jessica Perkins

Fabio Kleynhans was the sole goalscorer for Sparks, but it was the performance of their goalkeeper Justin Brown that stole the spotlight.

"He was by far the standout of the game - he probably made about 10 amazing saves," Bobart said.

"We came off (at half-time) and the boys were saying 'their goalkeeper's on at the moment, we need to work out a way to get around him', so my players were very objective about it and there wasn't much frustration at all.

"It was about getting the job done... We remained focused and adapted our game to try and fix the problems we were having.

"We realised what we'd been doing wrong in the first couple of quarters. The guys remained upbeat and positive and knew if they kept their head in the game the premiership was theirs."

 

Meteors Darren Heard in the A1 Mens Hockey Grand Final
Meteors Darren Heard in the A1 Men's Hockey Grand Final Jessica Perkins

Sparks captain/coach Alex Jeynes was immensely proud of how his side "stuck it to" Meteors.

"We made them work for it and the boys had a big crack so I couldn't be happier with how they played," Jeynes said.

"When we scored to make it 2-1 there was belief there that we could do it.

"They had a bit more experience and a bit more talent - we've got reserve-grade players and they have a full-strength A-Grade team - but we dug deep and gave them hell."

 

Meteors Jordyn Wilson and Sparks Lachlan Porteous in the A1 Mens Hockey Grand Final
Meteors Jordyn Wilson and Sparks Lachlan Porteous in the A1 Mens Hockey Grand Final Jessica Perkins

Jeynes agreed that Brown's goalkeeping heroics was the highlight of the match.

"He was easily best on park for both sides. For him to be saving all those goals it lifted us up a notch, kept us pushing and kept us going," he said.

"It always starts from the back, so if he's having a good game we all have a good game."

 

Meteors Hayden Pease in the A1 Mens Hockey Grand Final
Meteors Hayden Pease in the A1 Men's Hockey Grand Final Jessica Perkins

Bobart said Meteors Hockey Club was in a good place.

"We've got a good club culture, good juniors numbers and past players returning next year so we're really looking forward to the next couple of seasons... we're in a good spot," he said.

Hockey grand final results

A1: Meteors 4 def Sparks 1 (Men), Sparks 4 def Meteors 1 (Women)

A2: Meteors 3* def Sparks 1 (Men), Sparks 2* def Souths 1 (Women)

A3: Souths 3 def Yaralla 1 (Women)

Juniors: Meteors Scorchers 5* def Souths 2 (U16 Mixed), Meteors 3 def Sparks 0 (U14 Mixed), Sparks 1 drew Souths 1 (U12 Mixed - joint winners 1-1 full-time after 10 minutes extra time)

NOTE: * donates win after penalty shootout.