Overall Astley Cup glory might not be up for grabs this week but Dubbo College still enjoyed one of its greatest moments in the competition on Wednesday.
A 3-1 victory over Orange High in the hockey at Pioneer Park caused great celebration among Dubbo players and fans while it had others scouring the records and casting their minds back.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Dubbo College Astley Cup coordinator Craig May said.
“I can’t remember ever beating Orange. I’ve been here a long time and I think the last one was in the 1990s, I’d have to go back and check.
“It’s fantastic and great reward for a number of girls who have worked hard over a number of years whereas in the past we’ve had teams with just five or six hockey players and others who haven’t played so this is a fabulous result after a lot of hard work.”
The win has Dubbo in front after day one following a win in boys’ football, a draw in the girls’ football and a loss in tennis.
May, who assisted Deb Brown leading the team in the absence of coach Virginia Wake, couldn’t speak highly enough of his side, and rightly so.
While Orange was without state star Eva Reith-Snare, most still fancied the visitors to get the result.
However, there was a quiet confidence within the Dubbo team given a number of players had made the western team and payed at a high level this year.
It was one of the stars, Phoebe Bloink Hollier, who was key in the win. She dictated play from the middle of the pitch and scored twice from short corners to set up the win.
Lilli-Rai Campbell, another key figure, was again immense in goal and after a number of lean years she was overjoyed after the final whistle.
“It’s a great win. For years we’ve been underestimated for our hockey team and finally this year we had a really strong team,” she said.
“Having Phoebe Bloink Hollier back at the college and joining the team made it very strong and we had a lot of girls in the Western CHS side this year, probably the most of any school around the area.”
For years we’ve been underestimated for our hockey team.Dubbo's Lilli-Rai Campbell
Campbell and Orange counterpart Kathryn Cox were busy early and each made stunning saves to stop what seemed certain goals.
It was incredibly even with much of the game played in the middle but when Dubbo earned a first short corner they made it count, Bloink Hollier slamming a shot into the bottom corner.
They didn’t lead for long though as Orange hit back through Libby Smith and it seemed certain to remain 1-all at half-time until Bloink Hollier scored from another a short corner with the final strike of the opening stanza.
Dubbo again scored from a short corner midway through the second half, Bloink Hollier this time passing off to Brooke Pilcher to slam home under little pressure.
HT | It’s 2-1 at the break. Bloink Hollier struck a second from another short corner with the last strike of the half. Hosts on top, “don’t panic” the theme of the HT team talk. Dubbo side knows it’s a chance of a rare hockey win over Orange here. #AstleyCup18— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) July 4, 2018
In warm conditions the players battled fatigue, however there was a moment of relief when the pitch’s sprinklers unintentionally came on for roughly a minute.
That, and the fact the clock was winding down, spurred Orange on and the Hornets threw everything at Dubbo late on.
However, Campbell and the Dubbo defence held firm.
“Dubbo played a really good game, executed well and that was the difference,” Orange coach Pete Shea said.
“They put goals in the corner and we can’t do anything about that, they played well.
“We created three or four opportunities to get a goal back and the girls didn’t give up, which is exactly what you want from a game and that’s very pleasing.
“The effort was 100 percent and that’s all you can ask for.”
Dubbo’s immense effort in defence late on all came down to a desire to end a string of losses, according to Campbell.
“It was good to win a game. We really wanted it so much because you don’t normally hear of a Dubbo team winning Astley Cup hockey,” she said.