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Dalefield ready for tight final

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Dalefield vs Indians

“If we can nullify Indians attacking threats, we will create enough up front.”

That’s the view of Farriers Dalefield assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom as his team prepares for this afternoon’s final of the Intercity Championship at the National Hockey Stadium [NHS].

Indians claimed the bragging rights when the two met in the group stage, walking away with an 8-4 win, a score inflated by Indians converting more field goal shootouts. Dalefield won their first Wellington premier encounter 4-3, pointing to another close game between two evenly-matched sides.

Van Woerkom believes dominating the seven-yard zones [the space in front of the goals] will be vital if Dalefield are to come away with the trophy.

“They are quite nifty attacking-wise, and they get guys close to goal, and they get little deflections,” van Woerkom said.

“Last time, a couple of their midfielders made us look a bit silly at times just with their individual skills, so we need defensive accountability and to bring our tackling sticks.

“And at the opposite end, we think their weakness is their defence, so we need to put the pressure on them and win the battle in the attacking circle.”

With van Woerkom and Zac Hardie ineligible to play because they hadn’t played any of the group games, Dalefield will go into the game with only two outfield substitutes and an extra goalkeeper on the bench.

Van Woerkom is also sweating on the fitness of influential midfielder Alex Sumenko-Bucknell with a possible hamstring strain, while Hamish Finlayson [Achilles] and Rowan Yeo [knee] are battling niggling injuries, but will take the field.

Much of Dalefield’s play will likely revolve around player-coach Black Stick Dane Lett, who was outstanding in the semifinal win over Hutt United, including setting up a goal with a length-of-the-field solo run.

Van Woerkom is determined to wrap up in the inaugural Intercity championship, saying it was a goal of the team at the start of the season.

“The confidence would be even higher if we had everyone playing, but for a number of weeks now, we’ve been short.

“This competition might stay running and develop into something bigger in the next few years, and it’s something that we’re keen to win.”

Hit off is at 4.30pm at the NHS.

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Dalefield vs Harbour City

Dalefield co-coach Mike O’Connor is using this afternoon’s Intercity third-fourth playoff at the NHS as a chance to continue the team’s improvement with the resumption of the Wellington Premier Championship next week,

Although nothing is riding on the result, O’Connor said there are aspects of their game the players tidy up on, and those were evident in a video of last Saturday’s 6-3 semifinal loss to Northern United.

“The outcome doesn’t really matter, no one cares about third and fourth, but we do want to play well because it gives you confidence, and I think the following week we’re playing them again,” said O’Connor, who expects Harbour City to play a fast-paced game.

“They’re a good side and have some quick players and like to play long balls, so we have to make sure we don’t let them get in behind us at any stage like we did last week against Northern a couple of times, and that’s about communication.”

O’Connor intends to play Katie-Anne Saywell, despite the fact she was ruled ineligible for the semifinal, having not previously played for Dalefield in the Intercity.

That gives Saywell the chance to adapt to combinations ahead of the restart of the Wellington Premier Championship, with several players away for next weekend’s encounter.

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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