Jenna Anderson, who has created havoc for opposition defences, will miss today’s clash with Hutt United. PHOTO/FILE

Lett: Hutt will seriously test Dalefield’s resolve

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

The unbeaten Dalefield teams face their biggest challenges of the Hockey Wellington Premier Championships today with games against fierce rivals at the National Hockey Stadium.

Staying true to their attacking style would be the key to victory over Hutt United, women’s coach Michael O’Connor said on Thursday.

“The way this team has turned out this year, we’re a real attacking side, so we won’t go all defensive. We want to keep pushing that ball forward and keep the pressure on the other teams and wait for them to make mistakes and work off their mistakes.

“Our defence has always been good, and we’re probably the best defensive side, but this year we’ve got such exciting attackers, and hopefully both ends are going to be good.”

Dalefield have been in impressive form to score 27 goals and conceding just two in their first four games, whereas Hutt had their first loss of the season to defending champions Harbour City last weekend.

Much of Hutt’s play revolves around ex-Black Stick Aniwaka Roberts and O’Connor said they won’t be taking them lightly.

“We didn’t beat them at all last year and we have to play well.

“We need to be more accurate than we were last week [in the 6-0 win over Northern United] and we don’t want to have a lull like we’ve had in the last couple of games. We want to try and be more consistent throughout the whole game.”

Playmaker Jenna Anderson who is nursing a hamstring tweak, is the only player unavailable.

Meanwhile, in the men’s championship, Dalefield and Hutt United have developed a fierce rivalry over past seasons, having met in the past four finals, and winning two titles each.

It’s that type of rivalry that brings out the best in the players, said Dalefield player-coach Dane Lett.

“When you look at the teams there are some pretty good match-ups, but our approach to hockey is a little bit different, and that’s where can get a bit of an edge on them.

“But if we’re not on our game and they get a run along, they’re very good attacking wise,” he said.

Both teams have similar records after four rounds. Dalefield have scored 21 goals and have conceded none; Hutt have netted 25 goals and let in five.

Lett said the game would be a step up from previous outings.

“To be fair, the teams that we have played haven’t really thrown a lot at us, and it would’ve been hugely disappointing if we had conceded any goals in those games.

“We’ve got a few puzzles we need to solve, and I think we have a pretty good blueprint on Hutt, and we know how to beat them. We’ve had good success against them,” Lett said.

One player Dalefield will need to contain is Lett’s international teammate Stephen Jenness.

“He’s a 250-game Black Stick, one of our leading goalscorers.

“He’s a super threat in the circle, he likes to score goals from anywhere, and we need to make sure we deny him opportunities and match up well on him.

“If we can deny them chances, we know that we’ve got goals in us.”