TWO Warrnambool hockey players have helped Victoria to a breakthrough silver medal at Australian Masters’ Hockey Championships.
Paul Wastell and Dave Murray were part of the Victorian over 35s which finished runner-up at the titles in Hobart.
The team enjoyed two wins and two draws in its preliminary games and was the only unbeaten side. It lost its final 4-2 to a quick Tasmanian rival.
Wastell, 39, and Murray, 37, played as strikers during the week but only Murray hit the score sheet with one goal.
Wastell said five matches in seven days took its toll.
He said the runner-up finish was a good result for Victoria, which had traditionally struggled at over 35s level since its addition to the Masters’ schedule in 2008.
“We were really happy leading into the final, having been the only side that wasn’t beaten,” he said.
“Before the tournament the most fancied sides were New South Wales and Queensland.
“They’ve been playing each other for the last 15 years away from the Australian titles.
“They’ve had a long tradition of getting the guys in this age group together.
“For us and Tasmania to finish above those teams was an upset for a lot of people.”
Wastell said the Victorians’ preparation, which included eight weekly training sessions, and a six-hour round trip for the Warrnambool pair, was crucial to the result.
But he said Tasmania had too much speed in the final, and was 3-0 up within 15 minutes. Victoria won the teams’ earlier clash, 2-1.
“We went in with a good game plan when we played them in the preliminary rounds, we set up a zone defence so they couldn’t run at us,” he said.
“In the final that didn’t work, we got jumped.
“From then on we played all right but it was all over.”
Wastell and Murray were two of six Warrnambool District Hockey Association players who won selection for the Tasmanian tournament.
Tony Frost, over 40s division one, started his week-long campaign on Monday.
Tomas Tait and Stewart Purcell, over 40s division two, are halfway through their title bids and are locked in a battle for second spot.
Chris Thompson, over 55s division two, needs results to fall his way if he is to play in a final.
Meanwhile, Warrnambool’s Madi Ratcliffe helped Victoria to third place at the under 15 girls’ national championships in Canberra.
The Victorians had four wins, two draws and a loss from seven matches and third on goal difference.