Wests rookie Casey Younie scored a double on debut and lifted his side to a first-round last-minute win against St Patrick's to kick-start the Hockey ACT first grade season on Saturday.
Younie's brace was the difference as Wests beat St Patrick's 3-2. But the striker from Wagga saved the best for last, slotting home the winner in the last 30 seconds of the game after Wests surrendered a two-goal lead.
Younie converted a short corner to ensure his team got its title hopes off to a winning start in an opening round that delivered 31 goals in four games.
Goulburn trounced Tuggeranong 9-0, Central toppled Albury 8-2 and United completed the high-scoring round with a 6-1 win against Old Canberrans at Lyneham.
Wests had the toughest ask of all the matches, almost giving up their lead before Younie saved them at the death.
"Casey's had a couple of stints with different clubs, but he's with us this year which is good," said Wests coach Adam Baxter.
"We got up 2-0, but they were putting the pressure on us. They got it back to 2-2 and then Casey got the last one. First game it doesn't matter how you win, as long as you get the points and move on to next week."
United got its season off to a blistering start with a superb win against Old Canberrans.
Led by veteran Luke MacKinnon, United skipped out to a 3-0 lead at half-time and then hammered home the victory after the break as the club searches for its first title since 2003.
"The guys just clicked pretty well ... we had a practice run last week and that made the world of difference for us," MacKinnon said.
"We were surprised by the score ... it just seemed like a grinding win. It doesn't seem right saying that about a 6-1 one, but we kept plugging away.
"Our young guys up front are just super quick and made the most of their chances, which was very pleasing for me."
Albury faces a stiff challenge against defending champions Central in a double-header weekend.
Central got its title defence off to a good start by outclassing Albury 8-2, and the teams will go at it again in a re-match on Sunday.
"It was a pretty tough ask coming up against the defending champions in round one, we couldn't get a practice match in last week because we couldn't find an opponent," said Albury coach Matt Smart.
"But I thought we were fitter and hopefully that comes into the next match on Sunday. We hit the post a couple of times and had a shot ricochet off the crossbar. If those go in it makes a massive difference."
AT A GLANCE
WESTS 3 (Casey Younie 2, Tim Hardy) bt ST PATRICK'S 2 (Patrick Keir, Simon Kragh); GOULBURN 9 bt TUGGERANONG 0; CENTRAL 8 bt ALBURY 2; UNITED 6 bt OLD CANBERRANS 1.
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