Royals faithfuls tasted a sweet grand-final victory, years in the making, on Saturday.
Royals reclaimed the Wagga Hockey Division one women’s premiership after a four-year drought, defeating reigning premiers, Rosellas, 5-3 at Jubilee Park.
The team, desperate to win the title after coming so close in recent seasons, overcame a slow start to win convincingly.
“We were so determined,” captain, and best on ground Emily Paul said.
“We’ve made a few grand finals, and come finals time we haven’t been able to get the win.
“It was a huge moment.”
Rosellas showed promise, with a Kira McBeath goal inside the first five minutes, controlling the game for 15 minutes straight.
The shaky start scared Royals into action.
“Rosellas probably had the best game I’ve seen them play all season,” Paul said.
“I was a little bit worried.”
Paul took control in the midfield, and the tone soon changed as Sarah Bonny scored the first goal past Rosellas’ keeper Jo Dare.
Royals’ Maree Beresford and Simone Lotter both scored before Rosellas’ captain Carla Bailey hit back, bringing the score to 4-2.
It was a frustrating end for the Rosellas, who had their key forward, McBeath serving time on the bench.
An unrelenting Royals team put in the boot, scoring their fifth goal of the game.
McBeath came back on, taking a penalty corner, leading to the final goal of the game but it was all too late.
Paul, 31, praised Royals players half her age for standing up on grand final day.
“Our strength is that we have a good mix of experience and youth,” she said.
“Lauren Jolliffe, is only 13, you would never know it, and Clara Dobbie’s 15.
“They weren’t named on the div one team at the start of the season, they were div two players, but they kept on showing up at training and taking advice on board.
“On grand final day they showed maturity and composure, for girls so young they just did so well.”
Along with the premiership, Dobbie claimed the most coveted prize; best and fairest for the season in women’s division one and two competitions.
Paul was humbled to be named best on ground.
“I was quite surprised,” she said.
“Every single player fulfilled their role.
“I just wanted to go out there and lead the team, I knew that I needed to set the example.
“There are no stars, it’s a team effort.”
In 2017 Paul hopes to continue the legacy; coach Pat O’Donnell and each player on the premiership-winning squad, aside from Emma Griffin, and Isobel Cowell (away on grand final day) has committed to another season in Wagga.