Daniel van Woerkom attacking for Dalefield when they played Hutt United on July 21. PHOTO/JAMES CRAWLEY

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Farriers Dalefield men’s team will be hoping to get off to a quick start in their premier 1 final against Hutt United in Wellington today at 2pm.

Dalefield have made a habit of starting slowly and working their way into matches this season, and that is something player-coach Dane Lett wants to avoid today.

“We’ve got a bit of a tendency of doing that and working our way into games, but we really need to get off to a better start.

“We really need to be up for the game mentally, and for us, taking the game on from the start and not being passive.”

Dalefield are chasing their third title in four years, after winning the competition in both 2015 and 2016.

Last year, they were unbeaten heading into the final, but that streak came to an end at the worst possible time with a 4-3 loss to Hutt in extra time.

They have played Hutt three times so far this season, coming away with two wins and a draw.

Lett said it was never hard to get up for a match against their fiercest rival.

“It’ll be the fourth time we’ve played them this year, which does bring an element of knowing what they’re about and that we can compete with them.

“They’re a bit of a team that people look at them on paper and see all their rep players, but our guys know that on our day we can beat anyone.”

The two teams last met two weeks ago in the first round of the playoffs, and Dalefield won 2-1 in extra time.

Lett said it looked as if his entire squad would be available for the match, which was a luxury he had not enjoyed previously this season.

“It’s the first weekend we’ve had all our players available.

“All year we’ve had one or two unavailable each week, and as normally happens at finals time everyone is fit and healthy . . . it’s a good position to be in.”

Dalefield build their foundation around a solid defence, and their record shows how good they have been at that end of the turf.

They have conceded the least number of goals in the competition, and Lett said they would look to make a statement with their defence once again.

“When we defend well, we play well.

“Any game against Hutt is an easy one to get up for, so we’ll rip into training [Thursday night] and make sure we’re feeling good heading into the weekend.”

Lett said it wasn’t a case of trying to get revenge on Hutt for last year’s grand final defeat, but they were keen to give their younger players a taste of what it is like to win the competition.

“We’ve got quite a few new guys who haven’t played a lot of finals hockey and we’re missing a few senior guys from other years.

“We’ll definitely be trying to make it three titles in four years.”