World class skill display from stars delights fans

From the Newcastle Herald

CRAIG KERRY April 12, 2015
Simon Orchard in action during a rare match for his home club Maitland in round four action at Newcastle International Hockey Centre on Sunday.

MAITLAND prevailed 9-6 over Wests but there were no losers as almost 1000 people watched international hockey stars Sandeep Singh and Simon Orchard help put on a memorable show for the Hunter Coast Premier League on Sunday.

Singh, renowned as one of the world’s best drag-flick shooters, made a guest appearance for Wests and Kookaburras champion Orchard played a rare match for his home club Maitland in round four action at Newcastle International Hockey Centre.

Singh scored three goals from set pieces to help traditional strugglers Wests lead four times, but Orchard stepped up a gear in midfield as Maitland seized control in the final 15 minutes.

Brendan Crouch scored a hat-trick for Maitland, while Nathan Baker and Matt Hooson grabbed doubles. Sean Henry and Matt Magaan also scored.

The result, though, was always secondary as Newcastle celebrated the chance to watch two world-class players in action.

Singh was the main attraction early and there was a great cheer from the crowd when Wests were awarded their first penalty corner in the 13th minute.

The former Indian captain stepped up and delivered with a stinging drag-flick to score and he repeated the dose in the 16th minute. He scored a third off a rebound from his own drag-flick.

While Orchard didn’t score, he showed his touch and vision to set up goals.

Orchard is a teammate of Singh in the Indian Hockey League and helped put together the spectacle by asking Singh to play for Wests after he was originally going to turn out for Maitland.

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Orchard said there were a few nervous moments after Singh’s set-piece specials.

‘‘After Sandeep banged in a couple, the guys were looking at me like, ‘What’s going on?’’’ Orchard said.

‘‘But we were frustrated and just not playing well.

‘‘Once we got into the game though, we scored some nice goals and got on top.’’

Singh, who posed for photos before making a hasty return to Sydney, said he enjoyed the experience and welcome from the Newcastle crowd.

Orchard, who has played more than 150 games for Australia and won numerous major tournaments, was glad to be part of a ‘‘great night’’ for Hunter hockey.

‘‘To come in here and see such a good crowd, with lots of kids, that’s what it’s all about,’’ he said.

The crowd applauded both sides after the exciting match but there was respectful silence before the game as the hockey community paused to remember Newcastle legend and three-time Olympian Paul Dearing, who died last week at age 73.

In other matches on Sunday, Shaun Frazer scored four goals and Jared Reeves three as Norths trounced Tigers 11-1, Simon Pocock netted four times and John Fernance three as Souths defeated The Entrance 9-2 and Gosford beat Uni 3-0.

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