THE four-year wait for Australian Hockey League glory is over for NSW Arrows, and Bathurst’s Tamsin Bunt and Jess Watterson were part of the winning campaign.
Bunt picked up her third title in 10 years with the Arrows on Sunday following their tense 7-6 grand final victory over hosts Queensland Scorchers on the Gold Coast.
Watterson missed the semi-final and final with a hip injury but was able to come home with her first AHL success and three goals to her name.
Arrows had booked their place in the decider with a 4-3 win over defending champions Victoria Vipers the previous day, meaning NSW knocked over both of last year’s grand finalists to take the title.
In the grand final NSW got off to a great start to take a 4-2 lead at the main break.
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Converted goals to Mariah Williams and Greta Hayes gave Arrows the advantage, Savannah Fitzpatrick’s converted effort kept Queensland in the contest.
Goals for Arrows’ Grace Wilson and Abby Wilson in the final quarter proved decisive blows.
NSW felt relatively comfortable with their 7-3 lead and with their power play still in hand for the final five minutes, giving them double points for any goals scored.
Queensland delivered an attacking onslaught to bag a pair of goals but the Arrows defence held on long enough to seal the gold medal result.
NSW can lay claim to being the last AHL winners, as the competition prepares to move to a new format next year.
“It was wonderful to be the last ever winners. It was a wonderful experience. I’m still on a high,” Bunt said.
“They scored during our power play but because we were up by a few goals we just wanted to consolidate and hold our formation, ride out the last five minutes of the competition.
“There were a few shaky moments and some nervous errors, which led to a few goal scoring opportunities for them. They got close but credit to our girls, we held the game out.
“We’ve always made the semis but the wins are few and far between. To beat WA in the quarters, Victoria in the semis and Queensland in the final it feels like an amazing achievement.”
It was a great family affair for Bunt who watched sister Bec Lee come home in third place for the Canberra Strikers.
A successful Victoria penalty corner made the score 4-all and sent the game into a shootout, but the Strikers kept their nerve to win 2-0 in the battle for bronze, stunning the defending champions.