Saint Kilda took out the 2023 Canberra Cup with a flawless record of three consecutive wins in the tournament. The team from Melbourne began their campaign with a spectacular defensive performance against their long-standing rivals, Sydney University. In a closely-fought battle, Saint Kilda secured a 19-17 win, with the half-time score at 6-5 in their favor. National team goalkeeper Thomas Gerstch was the standout performer for Saint Kilda stopping a string of shots fired towards his goal.
In their second match against local club Canberra HC, Saint Kilda had a shaky start, conceding five unanswered goals in the opening five minutes. By the tenth minute, Canberra had maintained the pressure to lead by 8-3 and looked in complete control of the game. However, Saint Kilda left it to the second half to stage an impressive comeback. Despite a great effort by Canberra, Saint Kilda eventually emerged victorious.
Canberra started the tournament on a high note, defeating the University of Queensland from Brisbane. However, their defeat to Saint Kilda in their next match ended their hopes of taking the title. Canberra’s powerful shooter, left-back Saša Šestić, was the highest scorer in the tournament, with 32 goals, followed by David Nguyen of Saint Kilda with 20.
Sydney Uni bounced back from their opening match defeat to secure wins in their next two games. However, it was a case of too little too late for them as they had to pin all their hopes on UQ surprising Saint Kilda with a big win in the last round match. This was the second loss this season, for the Australian champions having already lost to UTS in an NSW League game earlier this month.
The University of Queensland had a tough start to the tournament, with several players unavailable for the trip to the capital. Despite having a string of junior national team players in their squad, they lacked the experience needed to overcome their more seasoned opponents.
Organizers of the Canberra Cup expressed their delight with the inaugural tournament’s success and thanked all the clubs, players, referees, bench officials, and fans who attended the event. They plan to grow the tournament in the future and invite more clubs to participate.
Canberra will next host Australia’s top club tournament, the Australian Handball Club Championship for men and women, at the Australian Institute of Sport, starting on 25 July.