Sheffield Hallam men’s first team are preparing for their vital promotion play-off campaign, after sealing their league title with a 6-0 win over Durham University.
The comprehensive victory over the league’s third-placed side sealed the North Conference championship for Sheffield, who now face Southgate in the play-offs next Sunday at Cannock HC (1pm).
The play-offs are a four-team round robin tournament, featuring Hallam, East Conference winners Wimbledon and West winners Cardiff & UWIC.
Southgate finished bottom of this year’s Premier Division.
The top two teams in the play-offs will play Premier Division hockey next season.
Star man Phil Roper again delivered when it mattered, with two goals, and David Smith, Alex Bailey, Martin Sutherland and Adam Harriman also got their names on the scoresheet.
Hallam. who have finished second for the last three years, finally went one better and secured the title, but still suffered a nervy start against Durham in a game they knew meant everything.
Durham made the better start to the match, and they were unlucky not to convert a first minute penalty corner and take an early lead.
Hallam eventually got going, however, and Roper was the catalyst as he set up Smith for the opener.
This settled Hallam’s nerves somewhat, and Roper put them 2-0 up in the 27th minute.
In the second half, Roper put the game beyond doubt with his second, and captain Alex Bailey joined the party to make it 4-0.
Durham failed to convert a penalty corner, and Sutherland made them pay when he converted a mazy run for five.
Harriman sealed the rout when he deftly lifted the ball over the Durham keeper.
Bailey was presented with the North Conference Trophy by fellow club member and London Olympic hockey supremo Sue Catton.
Hallam squad: Jamie Cachia (GK), Simon Hujwan (GK), Mike Shaw, Tom Barratt, David Smith, Alex Bailey (Capt) Martin Sutherland, Brendan Creed, David Goodfield, Joe Bradley, Phil Roper, Rhys Gowman, Gareth Furlong, Greg Nolan, Adam Harriman, Tom Hudson.