Ipswich World Cup master backs Easts fighting spirit
GETTING ready for his World Cup debut in South Africa, Stu Darby knew what the coronavirus meant for his sport.
He has to wait longer to represent Australia for the first time in over-50s international competition.
But as the dependable Easts hockey goalkeeper still does every time he takes the field, he took the challenge in his stride.
"That's all on hold until September next year now,'' Darby said of the Aussie opportunity.
"I'll stay active for another 12 months and try to improve . . . it's all good.''
Darby, 50, secured selection in his first national team after representing Queensland at last year's Australian championships in Western Australia.
Having backed up from an afternoon Reserve Grade match on Sunday, Darby showed in the A-Grade evening encounter that he had lost none of his defensive might.
Easts sharpshooter Adrian Cross scored a penalty corner after the full-time siren for the second week in a row to secure the thrilling 2-2 draw with Hancocks.
Darby and opposing goalkeeper Reid Jackwitz had superb games in a battle with high intensity given it was only the second match back after the four-month COVID-19 shutdown.
"It (the speed of the game) was too quick for my heart. I'm getting a bit old for this,'' Darby joked.
He said playing two games on one day "was easier when you're younger''.
However, travelling regularly from the Sunshine Coast where he works, the long-time Ipswich resident has been doing more individual work away from the team.
"Just doing fitness on my own, which I've never really done,'' he said.
"But on the coast, it's a beautiful place to get on the beach.''
Good sport Darby acknowledged the efforts of Jackwitz as the Hancocks keeper walked past leaving the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Darby was particularly satisfied with last year's easybeats Easts remaining undefeated after two games.
"It's great mate. There's some good kids coming through,'' Darby said.
"(Easts club president) Paul Malcolm has done great with the Easts juniors.
"You can see over the next five years there's a good crop of kids coming through.''
From some big losses last season, the Tigers are battling hard until the end this season, beating Wests before the draw with Hancocks.
"The kids all had a bit of A-Grade last year so this is giving them a bit of confidence now even though it's slow into the season and not all teams are as strong as they could be,'' Darby said.
"It's great for our kids. They are getting good touches.''
Senior Easts player Cross had another major impact on the latest result.
A week earlier, his last play penalty corner strike secured Easts a 3-2 victory over Wests.
On Sunday night, his penalty corner from a second attempt levelled the scores at 2-2 to leave last year's grand finalists Hancocks a little shell-shocked.
A superb goal by Kyle Sippel earlier ignited the Tigers fightback.
With his side trailing 1-0 after a Jay Pavitt goal, Sippel weaved through the Hancocks defence to wrong foot the skilful Jackwitz and score.
Zac Hoyland-Meaker put Hancocks up 2-1 in the second half before Cross manufactured another of his post-siren master strikes.
Defending premiers Norths held out Norths 6-5 in the other A-Grade men's encounter.
Zac Profke scored another hat-trick.
Men's and boys results July 24-26
A Grade - Norths 6 (Zac Profke 3, Dean Jeffrey, Jake Thornton, Nick Maddocks) d Wests 5 (Trent Davison 2, Ben Arndt, Rhys Stenzel, Austin Smith); Easts 2 (Kyle Sippel, Adrian Cross) drew Hancock Brothers 2 (Jay Pavitt, Zac Hoyland-Meaker.)
Reserve Grade: Norths 3 (P Jordan, Z Ashton-Norton, R Profke) d Wests 2 (C Jaenke 2); Hancock Brothers 4 (J Pavitt, D Isaacs, S Drew, C Banditt) d Easts 1 (J Robertson).
R2 Grade: Easts Black 5 (A Gawthorne 2, G Singh, A McDonald, R Tange) d Easts Gold 0; Norths 2 (T Ross 2) d Wests 1 (J Wilkinson); Bellbowrie 7 (C Meloury 5, B Payton, G Adsett) d Hancock Brothers 2 (D Howells, S Hogan).
A2 Grade: Swifts 2 (C Meloury 2) d Northern Strikers 1 (A Woods); Hancock Brothers 6 (J Grant 2, J Burs 2, R Sherlock, P Jackwitz) d Easts 2 (T Cook, A Hansen).
D Grade: Wests 6 (H Black 3, S Bock 2, S Schoeknecht) d Hancock Brothers 1 (S Jackwitz); Easts 6 (T Savage 3, L Morris 2, K Wesche) d Northern Strikers 3 (F Johnston 2, J Donald)
E Grade: Easts Black 3 (N Morris 3) d Western Strikers 0; Hancock Brothers 6 (C Siebenhausen 2, M Hogan 2, A Hanley 2) d Easts Gold 0.