SUTHERLAND Hockey Club's defending premiers will play the grand final of the Sydney Hockey men's first grade this Saturday at Homebush Bay.
Although minor premiers and favourites, Moorebank, will be tough to beat — Sutherland have not beaten them in the season proper — coach Peter Tait said the team was quietly confident of causing an upset in the big 4.30pm game.
Sutherland made it through courtesy of a very tough 1-1 draw with Burwood Briars on the weekend; the game went into five minutes extra time each way (golden goal).
"The key thing for me as coach was the character shown by the guys on Saturday," Tait said.
"They were out on their feet at the end of the match.
"We lost Josh Walters our key NSW striker early to hamstring injury and we also had to contend with no fresh subs because our second grade team played in the semi-final that same afternoon [Sutherland lost].
"No one thought we would get through, I know that"
Tait said last year's victory was a "bit of fairytale win."
"For Sutho, this one [2012 season] was always going to be real tough, but the guys have showed real character in the past two weeks to pull through together as a group," he said.
"At least we will have a fresh bench this week to help out."
Sutherland will lean heavily again on their five representative players: captain Matt Phillips, Josh Walters, Matt Johnson, Nathan Bourke and dual hockey/cricket rep, Shayne Smith, as well as outstanding goalie Blake Samford.
Other players selected are Mitchel Wray, Reece Bobyk, Matt Bennett, Cameron Buesnell and bench players Ralph Prince, Blake Sharp, Gavin Bobyk and Tim Mall.