Mariners claim top honour

Western NSW Mariners are the State League Division One under 16s premiers for 2013 after beating Hakoah Sydney City East 2-1 in their grand final at Bankstown on Sunday.

Western trailed 1-0 at half-time but coach Mark Rooke said it was an early lapse that saw his team concede, but from then on he was confident they would be able to win.

The Mariners scored two second half goals to take the victory and Rooke said he was extremely pleased for his side.

“I’m ecstatic for the kids. They have been fantastic for the last two years so this is a great reward,” he said.

“It wasn’t our best performance of the season, but we did enough to get the win and that’s good to see.”

Rooke said he was frustrated to see his team go down a goal, because they had trained to avoid it and talked before the match about what needed to be done during Hakoah’s set pieces, but he was confident they would still be able to get the win.

At half-time they talked about the lack of cohesion between the midfield and the forwards and corrected that.

“On the scoreboard it looked close but their goal came from a set piece, which we had talked about. We just weren’t quite switched on at the start.

“In the second half we came out looking much better after a swift talking to. We were a lot better in the front half of the pitch.”

Western drew level when Mitch Rooke latched onto a pass at the top of the box and blasted the ball into the top of the net. Just minutes later the move was repeated, but this time it was Pickering who was the receiver and he put it into the bottom of the net.

“All of the members of our squad did really well, but Lachie Thomas was the best on pitch today,” the coach said.

“We weren’t at our best as a team but we showed flashes of brilliance and scored two really good goals so that was pleasing.”

The majority of this year’s squad will be eligible for under 18s next year, and Rooke said he would like to see the players remain with the club. He is also open to coaching them again next year but said that is a decision Western will make.

“I hope these players come back again because I think this team still has a lot to offer for Western,” he said.

“There is a lot of talent here and they have stuck together for a long time. I think maybe even as early as next year a couple of them could be sitting on the bench for first grade.

“Hopefully it will work out [that I coach them]. I’m very keen to stay on but that’s up to the club and we will just have to see what happens.”

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