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Dalefield make fifth final

Alex Sumenko-Bucknell scored for Dalefield. PHOTO/FILE


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Dalefield are through to the final of the Wellington Premier Men’s Hockey Championship for the fifth straight year.

Dalefield’s 7-3 win over Naenae at the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday will have them playing Hutt United for the fourth consecutive year in the championship decider.

Dalefield started the brighter of the two teams in the sudden death playoff and took an early 2-0 lead with goals to Benedict van Woerkom, after two minutes, and Dylan Price after nine minutes.

Naenae then took advantage of some sloppy play by Dalefield, with goals either side of quarter time to level the scores.

Player-coach Dane Lett restored the lead in the sixth minute of the second quarter to make the halftime score 3-2.

A more focused Dalefield dominated the second half. Dane Lett scored his second goal to extend their lead to 4-2 at three quarter time.

Price added to his goal tally early in the final quarter. Zac Hardie put the game out of reach to make it 6-2 with seven minutes to play.

Naenae did pinch a goal back when Dalefield captain Rowan Yeo was in the sin bin for a collision the umpires deemed as dangerous.

Alex Sumenko-Bucknell rounded off the scoring when he rolled the ball into the net with 20 seconds left on the clock.

In the end the 7-3 scoreline was a convincing result, however co-manager Bernie Lett said they made it hard on themselves and allowed Naenae to fight back.

“We started well and had them under pressure, but we got sloppy and let them back into the game,” he said. “Naenae like to counterattack and our lapses in concentration allowed them to score a couple of goals.

“We controlled the second half of the game and in the end, it was a convincing win.”

If Dalefield are to lift their third championship trophy in five years, they will have to do so without Dane Lett.

The inspirational player-coach leaves today for a four-nation series in Japan.

The internationals against Japan, India and Malaysia are warm-up games for the Black Sticks before their Olympic qualifiers against Australia in Rockhampton in early September.

With the Tokyo Games predicted to be the hottest ever, the four-nation series will also give the Black Sticks an important gauge of what to expect should they qualify for the Olympics.

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