The Wairarapa-Bush under-15s front the camera. Back row, from left: Abby Crawley, Hannah Maunsell, Meg Southey, Claire McFetridge, Ana Whitehead, Maddie Taylor. Middle row: Amy Bunny, Ruby Bermingham, Molly Donald, Amy Wood, Charlotte Diederich, Imogen Bird. Front: Reese Robertson (captain), Laura Hartwell. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

HOCKEY

The Wairarapa Under-15 premier girls’ hockey team returned home from their national tournament hosted by North Harbour with their heads held high.

Going into the tournament, the team were ranked 13th out of 16 teams and at the end of the week had improved to finish 10th overall.

Pool play started in positive fashion with a 1-1 draw against top eight side Waikato followed by a narrow 1-2 loss to eventual finalists North Harbour.

The level of hockey played by the Wairarapa side was outstanding against those two bigger regions and the team received many compliments from the opposition camps on their competitiveness.

A 4-0 win against Southland completed pool play and gave Wairarapa a chance to go through to the prestigious top eight playoffs.

However, they were thwarted by a 2-2 draw between North Harbour and Waikato which meant that Wairarapa finished third in their pool.

Crossover games commenced with a gutsy win 4-0 over Otago after the scores had been tied 0-0 at half-time, Wairarapa powering home in the second half with four unanswered goals.

That victory saw the team progress through to the playoffs for ninth to 12th against Counties-Manukau and again the team had to dig deep to come from 0-1 down at halftime to win 3-1 to make it through to the playoff for ninth and 10th against Manawatu.

In what was a gutsy display, Wairarapa went down 1-2 here with their cause not being helped by them being reduced to 10 players for 20 minutes of the game with two yellow cards being dished out by a somewhat over-zealous umpire.

Wairarapa coach Justine Robertson was delighted with her team’s overall performance.

She praised the culture both on and off the field, and said the future of Wairarapa hockey was in good hands with such a talented group of players.

Player of the tournament for Wairarapa was Claire McFetridge who set the standard with her immense work rate and commanding presence on the field.

Other players to shine were defender Hannah Maunsell and captain Reese Robertson who did a power of work up front to set up many goals.

Top goal scorer for the team was Amy Wood with five field goals.

The final was hotly contested between Canterbury and North Harbour with Canterbury securing a narrow 1-0 win to secure the goal medal.

Auckland overcame defending champions Hawke’s Bay 4-1 to grab the bronze medal in the playoff for third and fourth.