LIKE his hard-working players, South West Queensland coach Nathan Hooper was hurting last night after an extra-time loss at the inaugural Super League championships.
After leading 2-0, South West lost 3-2 to Brisbane in yesterday's final at the State Hockey Centre.
"It's a killer," Hooper on his way back to Ipswich.
"We were so close."
It took a goal from a penalty corner in the final play of extra time to complete Brisbane's comeback.
However, when he awakes this morning, the Ipswich mentor can be proud of his newly-named Lumberjacks.
Hooper's regional representative side did what few teams have done in recent years - nearly upset the powerful Brisbane combination.
The South West team included Ipswich players Tobias Figura, Mark Pocock, Dean Jeffrey, David Llewelyn, Peter Mitchell and Lachlan Brown.
Providing some post-final satisfaction was Figura being named player of the tournament after being the Super League's top goal-scorer with nine.
Figura was also named in the Queensland Blades squad for the next national league season.
Llewelyn was chosen as a shadow player in the Queensland development squad.
Brisbane also won the women's final, beating the previously unbeaten Wide Bay team 2-1.
South West Queensland, including Ipswich players Kiah Ahern, Natasha Bice, Jade Hooper, Amy Korner, Sara Rogers and Kirsten Mackay, finished third.
Ahern made the Queensland Country side with Rogers named as a shadow player.
Ipswich-based striker Jeffrey said it was satisfying being part of a team that pushed Brisbane all the way.
Having played in previous Premier League and Australian Country championships, Jeffrey praised Norths teammate Figura for his impressive performance.
"It was pretty quick," Jeffrey said. "We had a very good tournament."
Having coached Ipswich at Premier League level, Hooper would also welcome another chance to be involved in future Super League competitions.
"It was a lot better standard of hockey," Hooper said.
"Each team was very tough.
"Every side was well coached and had good structure.
"It was just a lot cleaner, sharper hockey.
"I learnt so much out of the weekend."
As for making the nerve-wracking final, Hooper said his squad of 17 could be proud.
"I'm very disappointed in the result, not the guys' effort," he said.
"It's just unfortunate it got away from us at the end."
South West qualified for the final after beating South Coast 5-2 yesterday morning. However, so close was the men's competition that a countback of earlier results was needed to lift South West ahead of Northern.
Super League review:
- The South West Qld men lost yesterday's final 3-2 to Brisbane in a thrilling extra-time battle. In earlier games, SW beat Wide Bay 5-3, lost to Brisbane 5-3, lost to Northern 3-2, beat Central 5-4 and beat South Coast 5-2.
- The South West Qld women finished third after beating Northern 3-1, South Coast 3-1 and Central 3-2. SW lost to Wide Bay 5-3 and Brisbane 4-0.