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Dalefield targeting vital wins

MEN

Victoria vs Dalefield
NHS 1.15pm

A win over Victoria, preferably with a bonus point, is vital for Farriers Dalefield in their push for a top-two finish in the Wellington Premier Men’s Championship.

Dalefield are third equal with Indians, one point behind Harbour City in second place. The top two teams at the completion of the round-robin take two lives into the final series, whereas the third and fourth-placed teams meet in a sudden-death playoff.

Although fifth-placed Victoria would look easy pickings with a record of just one win, Dalefield player-assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom rates them as possibly more of a challenge than Harbour City, who drew 2-2 with Dalefield last Saturday.

“They’re just a scrappier team, and there’s a bit more uncertainty about what you’re going to get from them,” van Woerkom said.

“They’re an up-and-down team, they play on momentum as a lot of teams do, but they get all their energy from keeping a team at bay.

“They’ve got a very goalkeeper Max Ruffle, who is one of the Wellington goalkeepers, and they rely on his energy and saves at the back, and the longer they keep a team scoreless, the more they just feed off it.

“But they are also the sort of team that you can unpick with some good structure, and that’s what we have, and if our decision-making can be better than last week, we will cause them issues.”

Van Woerkom added that although a bonus point for winning by five or more goals would be ideal, he and coach Dane Lett are focusing on securing the victory.

Dalefield won the first-round clash 4-3 but have improved significantly since then, and van Woerkom expects a further step forward at the National Hockey Stadium this afternoon.

“Just the way we’ve been going, we’ve been scrapping through the season a bit, but one of these games, it’s going to click,” he said.

Dalefield are expected to field the same team that drew with Harbour City.

WOMEN

Victoria vs Dalefield
NHS 2.45pm

A win over the battling Victoria is also crucial for Farriers Dalefield in their quest for a place in the final of the Wellington Premier Women’s Championship.

Unlike the men, who have the luxury of top-four playoffs, the women’s competition is cutthroat, with the top two teams going straight to a final.

Dalefield are second on 17 points, seven points behind unbeaten Northern United, and two points clear of Hutt United in third, with Harbour City fourth on 12 ponts.

A bonus point victory is a realistic aim based on their previous clash, which Dalefield won 6-0, although co-coach Mike O’Connor said the focus is simply to win.

“It would be great if we could get a bonus point because I’m sure Hutt and Harbour will be looking to pump the minor teams,” O’Connor said.

“The win first is the most important thing, and then if we get in that position during the game, we can go for it then.”

O’Connor is confident of a good showing, saying that the win over Harbour City was a confidence booster and the team are starting to find some continuity.

He was, however, uncertain of the lineup for this afternoon’s game, with a few players battling minor illnesses during the week.

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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