The Dragons Boys progressed to the England Hockey National Finals as runners up in the East Competition with results as follows:
2-1 loss to Sudbury
9-1 win over Berkhamsted
3-2 win over City of Peterborough
4-3 loss vs Old Loughtonians
vs Sudbury – Ben Watson 1
vs Berkhamsted – Tom Williams x2, Jonty Gosling x3, Ben Watson x4
vs Peterborough – Ben Watson x3
vs Old Loughtonians – Ben Watson x3
Fantastic to be the first Norwich Dragons HC to represent the Club at National Finals.
Having beaten local rivals Norwich City and Harleston Magpies to qualify as County Champions, the Norwich Dragons U16 boys took on the representatives of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in the East Regional Indoor tournament at UEA, being used as a full size indoor hockey pitch.
Dragons opened the tournament against the Suffolk representatives, Sudbury. Dragons started the game in confident style, with Sudbury seemingly content to sit deep and absorb pressure before launching attacks on the break. Despite creating the majority of chances, Dragons fell behind mid-way through the first half, and trailed 1-0 at the break.
After a half-time team-talk that focussed on increasing the tempo, Dragons had a disastrous start to the second half, going 2-0 down within 30 seconds. After this, the performance improved markedly, but with a 2-goal cushion and a strong defence, Sudbury proved extremely difficult to break down. With 2 minutes to go, Ben Watson did pull a goal back following good work by Jonty Gosling, but it was too little too late for Dragons.
Final Score: Norwich Dragons 1-2 Sudbury
Dragons second game was against the Hertfordshire side, Berkhamsted. Dragons played this game at a far higher tempo, and with Berkhamsted very new to indoor hockey, Dragons started to create chances quickly, with Jonty Gosling scoring a first half hatrick, before setting up Tom Williams at the back post. Berkhamsted pulled one back from a penalty corner, only for Ben Watson to coolly flick home a Dragons corner on the stroke of half-time.
The second half saw more of the same, with clever movement from the Dragons forwards creating space behind the Berkhamsted defence for the the backline of Tom Harris and Alex Stone to exploit the walls to good effect, leading to second half goals for Tom Williams and a further three for Ben Watson.
Final Score: Norwich Dragons 9-1 Berkhamsted
Dragons third game was a must win match against a good City of Peterborough side that had confidently dispatched Sudbury in their previous game. A very tight game followed, with neither side giving up much in the way of chances, Peterborough struck first to go 1-0 up, but Dragons levelled through Ben Watson via a penalty corner, and the score remained tied at the break.
In the second half, Dragons struck first, Watson finishing smartly after good work from Stone and Gosling. Peterborough pushed strongly, but the Dragons defence stood strong and when Peterborough did manage to fashion a chance Ben Nkrumah in the Dragons goal proved up to the challenge. With Peterborough pushing on by taking their keeper off they were vulnerable to being hit on the break, and Dragons ruthlessly took an opportunity to increase their lead courtesy of Watson with his hatrick. There was still time for Peterborough to force and convert a late corner, but not to restart the game, giving Dragons the win.
Final Score: Norwich Dragons 3-2 City of Peterborough
Dragons fourth game was against Old Loughtonians, who were on course to win the tournament having dominated their games against Peterborough and Berkhamsted, despite not playing with a goalkeeper. Dragons knew goal difference could be a key factor in the tournament final positions; and were determined not to let Old Loughtonians over-run them. A tight opening few minutes saw little in the way of chances for either side, but Old Loughtonians were clinical with theirs, scoring 3 times in the opening 8 minutes. Dragons took the bold move of removing their keeper and going man for man with Old Loughtonians, which seemed to cause Old Loughtonians to sit a little deeper and settle on their lead.
At half-time, Dragons stressed the importance of keeping the work-rate as high as possible and converting our changes. The boys took this to heart and produced a 12 minute period of incredible work-rate, frustrating their opposition, limiting them to just two real chances, one well-converted penalty corner, and a second that was superbly stopped on the line by Rohan Kaushal. At the other end, Dragons proved clinical, Ben Watson scoring twice in open play and converting an unstoppable penalty stroke after good work by Kaushal. Further chances did come, Kaushal chasing down what appeared a lost cause, only to see the effort come back off the post with Watson unable to collect the rebound; Stone finding his way into the D but seeing his cross touched away at the last second as Kaushal looked set to score; and Kaushal converting from Watson’s pass, only for the equaliser to be ruled out for a questionable foul. Despite a great second half performance, the result meant Dragons had to rely on other matches to determine their fate.
Final Score: Norwich Dragons 3-4 Old Loughtonians
As it happened, Old Loughtonians comfortably overcame Sudbury to confirm the title as theirs, and despite a spirited effort, Peterborough were unable to overturn the goal difference deficit to Dragons in their match against Berkhamsted, meaning Dragons finished runners-up and qualify for the National Finals in January.