Rocky sports team breaks 18-year drought
HOCKEY: Rockhampton has won the under-18 men's state championship for the first time since 2001.
The talented outfit enjoyed an unbeaten run to the title in Townsville, scoring a 2-1 win over the Gold Coast in an entertaining grand final.
Coach Todd Harmsworth said it was a great performance and the team didn't miss a beat all tournament.
Defender Sean McDonald made a triumphant return from injury to star for Rockhampton.
Sidelined for 10 weeks, his first game back was Rockhampton's opening game against Toowoomba at the championships.
Rockhampton won that game 3-1, and then beat Mackay 5-2 after being down by two goals in the first five minutes.
They went on to score comfortable wins over Brisbane 2 and Cairns to book their grand final berth.
Regan Weatherhead and Cooper Johnson scored for Rockhampton in the decider.
Goalkeeper Tyson Shailer was called on to make a number of vital saves in the third quarter as the Gold Coast hit back hard after half-time.
Six members of the victorious team - McDonald, Weatherhead, Callum White, Nathan Moffat, Hayden Pease and Ryley Bobart - were named in the Queensland under-18 men's trial squad.
Cassidy Knuth and Jessica and Ebonee Moffat were named in the under-18 women's squad after Rockhampton finished ninth in Division 1 at their titles in Murwillumbah.
The majority of the boys have played together in rep teams since under-11, and Harmsworth said their combination and understanding were telling factors.
He said another strength was the depth of talent.
"No matter what sub I made the standard did not drop and the intensity did not drop,” he said.
"That meant we could go, go, go and put full pressure on the opposition teams.
"I was always hoping for a grand final spot but you never know what you're going to come up against and you know that anything can happen in a grand final.”
Harmsworth said McDonald was an "absolute rock”, and he and Moffat were solid at the back.
Johnson proved lethal in attack and Darcy Milner and Kaleb Christensen proved a dangerous attacking option on the right-hand side.
Harmsworth said it was a deserved victory for the players, every one of whom played incredibly well.
"Personally, this is one of my coaching highlights. I've never coached a team to a state title win,” he said.
"Full credit to the boys, they were over the moon when they won.”