Dalefield’s Rowan Yeo in action for the Capital Cobras on Sunday. PHOTO/JO MURRAY

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Capital Cobras have a solid base to build on when they continue their National Hockey League campaign this weekend.

Two Dalefield men’s players got their names on the scoresheet as Capital got their tournament off to a rollicking start on Sunday.

Despite a disjointed preparation, Capital proved far too strong for Central in Wellington, eventually winning 5-0 with Dalefield duo Dane Lett and Nick Finlayson scoring goals.

With a large portion of the squad based in Auckland, Capital went into the opening match hoping — rather than expecting — that they would be able to gel quickly as a team.

As it turned out, they blew those fears out of the water pretty quickly as they opened the scoring in the first quarter, before captain Lett — one of four Wairarapa players in the team — extended their lead from a penalty stroke in the second quarter.

They added three further goals — including one to Finlayson — in the second half to get their campaign off to the perfect start.

Lett is one of five Black Sticks in the Capital squad, along with Blair Hilton, Daniel Harris, Harry Miskimmin and Brad Read.

The other Wairarapa players in the team are Dalefield’s Rowan Yeo and Finlayson, and region of origin player Benedict van Woerkom.

Lett was thrilled the team had put together such a dominant display so early in the competition.

“We were very pleased — it was a game that we targeted to try and get maximum points out of.

“I think it’s important to try and start well and set yourself up for the tournament week, so we were really keen to do a good job.”

Lett admitted the squad were surprised with how quickly they had clicked as a group, and they should only get better with more time together on the turf.

“Even though we hadn’t had any team trainings, we have a core group of players who have played a lot of hockey together which kind of makes it doable with limited preparation.

“If we didn’t have that core group who know each other well then we would probably struggle without that preparation.”

The rest of the tournament takes place in Wellington from this Saturday until the following Sunday.

Capital’s next match is against North Harbour on Saturday, and then they will take on Midlands on Monday.

Most of the squad have remained in Wellington this week, giving Capital some valuable time to train together.

“We’ve got about 90 per cent of the squad together this week but a few guys had to go back up to Auckland to go back to work,” Lett said

“It’s still not a full team together but we’ll hopefully have a bit of a run on Friday with everyone, and then just rip in again.”

Things did not start so positively for the Capital Women in their first match against Central last weekend, as they were beaten 4-0 in Hawke’s Bay.

The team — featuring Wairarapa players Katherine van Woerkom, Michael O’Connor and Natalie Austin — will play their second match against Canterbury on Saturday in Wellington.

The semifinals and final of the men’s competition will be held on the weekend of September 22 and 23, while in the women’s competition the top two teams will go straight into the final on September 23.