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Dalefield close in on finals berth

WOMEN

Hutt United vs Dalefield,
2pm Fraser Park

A win over Hutt United this afternoon would confirm Farriers Dalefield’s place in next month’s Wellington Premier Women’s final with two rounds to spare.

Unlike the men’s premiership, where every team is alive heading into the finals, the women’s is cutthroat, with the top two to progress to the big dance.

Dalefield are second in the race to meet Northern United in the final, nine points clear of Harbour City, with two games left to play – against Hutt today and unbeaten Northern next week, before sitting out the last round with the bye.

A win would seal Dalefield’s place in the decider. A loss would open the door for Harbour City, although they would probably need to win all three games, starting today against Toa and finishing with tricky fixtures against Hutt and Northern, and possibly pick up a bonus point from one of the three.

Dalefield co-coach Mike O’Connor reckons this afternoon’s clash with an out-of-sorts Hutt, who surprisingly lost to Toa last week, is a must-win.

“We don’t want to lose this game and the next one because there’s the possibility of Harbour catching us if they win all three games,” O’Connor said.

“To be safe, we really need to nail this game.”

Although Dalefield were comfortable 4-0 winners over Karori last Saturday, O’Connor was disappointed the team failed to push on and were held scoreless in the second half, and they cannot afford a similar effort today.

“If it is a tight game, and I’m expecting that it will be, we’ve got to make sure we’re there at the end pushing hard. More concentration, making the ball do the work with early passes, and not dither around with at the back and get the ball moving.

“We’ve just to knuckle down and get the job done, and then next week, whatever comes along against Northern, it will be of little consequence if we can wrap this game up.”

Dalefield are without Felicity Reidy with a hamstring strain, Emma McLeod away at a cricket camp, and Jorja Sacke away.

MEN

Dalefield vs Northern United, 12.30pm Clareville

A bonus point victory over Northern United would likely lock in a second-placed finish for Farriers Dalefield heading into the start of the finals series next weekend.

But in the end, it is immaterial, with all six teams in the Wellington Premier Men’s Championship inexplicably qualifying for the playoffs.

The first finals round sees the top two teams play what effectively is a nothing game, with only seedings for the semifinals to be determined. The third-placed team will play the sixth team, and the fourth and fifth teams will meet in elimination finals, with the winners going on to play the one and two-ranked teams in the semifinals.

Dalefield are locked with Harbour City in second place and have the easier game against winless Northern United, where a bonus point for winning by five goals is a realistic prospect, while Harbour City play leaders Hutt United.

The return of Black Sticks international Dane Lett, Marcus Ambrose, and Alex Sumenko-Bucknell will have Dalefield close to full strength for one of the rare times this season, although Zac Hardie remains on the sidelines with a fractured leg. and Kyle Craven is away.

Dalefield go into the game on the back of a disappointing 5-3 loss to Indians, and player-assistant-coach Benedict van Woerkom believes there has to be significant improvement on that effort heading into the business end of the season.

“Our outlet, and being able to connect through the layers, making sure our midfield is available, so it’s just all performance-focused stuff, and also getting guys more confidence heading into the finals,” van Woerkom said

“We’re just looking forward to playing with a full team and pretty much a collective unit for the first time.”

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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