The Marlborough under-18 boys hockey team broke a 23-year drought when they brought home the Stirling Memorial Cup from Westport last weekend.
The much sought-after trophy is contested annually by U18 boys sides from West Coast, Buller, Nelson and Marlborough, and this year it was finally Marlborough’s turn to grab the silverware.
Firstly, they played West Coast on Saturday morning and after a frustrating first quarter, where they applied plenty of pressure but didn’t get the results, they came away with a 10-0 win. West Coast were outclassed skill wise and everything the strikers touched turned to gold, according to coach Grant McMillan.
Marlborough met Buller on Saturday afternoon and it followed a similar pattern, with early pressure not being rewarded. But once again the flood gates opened in the last three quarters with a strong midfield effort making life easy for the strikers. Marlborough won 9-1 with strong performances from Sean Moran and Leighton Le Sueur.
This meant that the tournament came down to the game between the unbeaten sides, Nelson and Marlborough.
Marlborough started well in the decider with two quick goals in the first quarter and managed to hold that score until half time.
However Nelson lifted for the third quarter, bagging two goals of their own to make for a tense final quarter.
Both sides had opportunities that weren’t converted and with seven minutes to go Nelson substituted their keeper, knowing that only a win would suffice as Marlborough had a better goal difference overall.
Marlborough managed to hold their nerve and it was a 2-2 draw at full time. Strong performances in defence from Hunter Davies and Lachlan Mackie were crucial in the last quarter as Marlborough claimed tournament victory due to their superior scoring statistics.
Marlborough U18 squad: Declan Phibbs, Lachlan Mackie, Hugh Pearce, Nick Williams, Leighton le Sueur, Kris Godsall, Patrick Neal, Ollie Jarvis, Sean Moran, Joseph Westend, Hunter Davies, George Varney, Wade Sweeting, Gus Varney, Sam Hamilton. Coach Grant McMillan.