A SCORCHING third quarter from Lithgow Storm would ultimately pave the way for the home side's Premier League Hockey men's grand final triumph on Saturday, as minor premiers St Pat's couldn't find a response.
Storm scored all three of their goals in a 14 minute window after half-time to celebrate a 3-0 success in front of their home crowd and cap off a dominant year's play.
The Saints had managed to go toe-to-toe with the Storm throughout the scoreless opening half - and were the dominant team in the second quarter - but a successful Nic Milne penalty stroke two minutes after half-time would break the game wide open for Lithgow.
From there they scored quick-fire goals in open play through Taylor Dobel and Mitch Brain to put the title out of the Saints' reach.
"It was a tough game, especially over the first two quarters. We had a couple of opportunities but couldn't put them away so I said to our guys that we just had to be patient," Storm coach Dave Marshall said.
"In the third quarter we certainly made the most of our chances, and we played the ball a little bit shorter, and that really worked well for us. We were able to run over the top of them and they couldn't come back from that."
It was a solid effort from St Pat's, who had bested Parkes United in the preliminary final less than 48 hours earlier, and Richard Sharp couldn't fault the effort of his side.
"We just looked disconnected in the third quarter and, dare I say it, we were a little tired and that's when we lost our connections and structure," he said.
"I can't fault the effort and the urgency from the guys. I guess at the end of our day our structure let us down. Lithgow put the foot down on the gas and we couldn't respond."
Lithgow came out the stronger team and would find themselves four penalty corner across the first quarter, with the Saints defensively stronger enough to see the off.
Brandon Horner had a great chance to score in the fourth minute but his chance was blocked by Saints goalkeeper Taylor Newton.
The fast-paced nature of the game continued into the second quarter as the Saints' younger stars like Lachlan Howard and Fletcher Norris started to assert themselves.
Tyler Willott had the best scoring chance of the quarter for the Saints with a tough attempt at the top of the circle missing the mark.
A dangerous cross from Norris close to half-time went just out of the reach of Riley Hanrahan, keeping the teams level at the break.
Pat's couldn't capitalise on a penalty corner inside the opening minute of the new half and Lithgow would immediately find their breakthrough on their next trip down the field.
An on-target shot from Brandon Horner was stopped by a Saints foot, leading to Milne's successful stroke.
Lithgow scuffed a penalty corner opportunity in the 42nd minute but cleaned up well to get the ball back into the circle and onto Dolbel's stick for a successful shot.
The decisive blow came just two minutes later as Brain tapped home an easy shot when he was left unmarked at the back post.
45' - GOAL Storm. Pat's caught napping as Lithgow finds Mitch Brain open on the back post for the deflection, right in the dying seconds of the third quarter. 3-0 Storm at the break. What an amazing period for the hosts.— Alexander Grant (@AlexGrantOz) July 31, 2021
Saints did have one last strong scoring opportunity four minutes out from full-time when a great cross found itself just out of the reach of Jaden Ekert, putting an end to any hopes of a miracle.
Ben Kelly was rewarded for his excellent game by being named player of the grand final.
LITHGOW STORM 3 (Nic Milne, Taylor Dolbel, Mitch Brain) defeated ST PAT'S 0
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