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Dalefield go for two trophies

WOMEN

Northern United vs Dalefield

National Hockey Stadium, 1pm

Farriers Dalefield are sweating on the fitness of gun striker Felicity Reidy for this afternoon’s Wellington Premier Women’s final against warm favourites Northern United at the National Hockey Stadium.

Reidy hasn’t played since straining a hamstring in the 4–0 win over Karori four weeks ago, but co-coach Mike O’Connor said they would leave it right until the last minute to decide whether the former Black Stick can take the field.

Although Reidy’s availability would be a massive boost for the team, Dalefield showed two weeks ago that could match Northern, holding them to a 4–4 draw, the first time the unbeaten top qualifiers had dropped points this season.

Northern had won their previous two encounters 4–1 and 6–3, the latter in the Intercity Championship.

“The first two games, they gave us a bit of a towel up, but we did take a lot of confidence out of that draw, and we realised that if we can get in behind them with a good passing game, we’ll give us a real chance,” O’Connor said.

Two areas where O’Connor stressed Dalefield need to improve are their defence against the slick Northern attackers and taking better options in the opposition half.

“We leaked a few goals to them, so we have to make sure we really muscle up in our defending circle and our 22, and not to let them in there, and look at how we attack a bit better because they’ve got a good goalie and as long as we don’t go direct at her and try and move her around a bit and we just need to be a bit smarter there, and I’ll think we’ll be in the money.

“Use the early pass and get the ball moving and let the ball chew up that ground and we can sneak in behind them. We’ve got the girls who can do the business up the front.”

One aspect where Dalefield can claim to have an advantage is finals experience, with several players being part of the championship-winning sides over the past six years, including co-coach Katherine van Woerkom, captain Michael O’Connor, Reidy, Rosie Rooderkirk, Emma Smith, and Reese Robertson, who has been outstanding since going on to new medication to control cystic fibrosis.

“I’m pretty confident, the girls are pretty determined, and I know they will give 110 per cent. If we can go out there and do what we want to do and stop them from scoring, I think we’re in with a real chance.”

O’Connor added that he would like to win in normal time and avoid going to a nerve-wracking shootout, as Dalefield did in winning their last two titles. MEN

Hutt United vs Dalefield

National Hockey Stadium – 3pm

Farriers Dalefield haven’t been in the Wellington Premier Men’s final for three years, and player-assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom cannot wait to get back to the big dance against old foes Hutt United.

Dalefield won the last of their four titles in 2020 but missed out on the final the last two
years, including going unbeaten in 2022, only to lose both semifinals.

“This is why we play, why we train, why we travel over to Wellington once a week or a fortnight, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it because finals don’t come around every day,” van Woerkom said.

“The guys are super excited to be back where we believe we belong in the final with one more step to lift that trophy.”

Like the Dalefield women, there is plenty of championship-winning experience, starting with Black Stick centurion and player-coach Dane Lett, the van Woerkom brothers Benedict and Daniel, captain Rowan Yeo, Hamish Finlayson, Graeme Murrell, Cody Linton, and Jayan Parbhu.

“These playoff games generally have only one or two goals in it and one or two moments that dictate the game, and hopefully, our experience can shine through in those moments.

“There’s going to be emotions and adrenalin running high at the beginning, and we’ll need our older heads to remain composed and lead the way for the younger and less experienced guys who might have the nerves.

“If we can settle into the game, our experience should shine through in match management and doing what’s required to get the win.”

Lett’s return from the Black Sticks Oceania Cup series is a huge boost for the side, on defence and attack, especially at penalty corner [PC] time, where he has a deadly drag flick.

Although Dalefield will be without the influential Alex Sumenko-Bucknell and Zac Hardie, they will, for the first time this season, have a full squad of 18, including two college students, Jamie O’Hara and Toby Nelson, who will have their first taste of premier final action.

Hutt also have their share
of experience with Black Stick Harry Miskimmin and PC exponent Callum Olson; otherwise, van Woerkom said
it is a relatively fresh team.

The two teams have met three times in the Wellington championship this season, with Dalefield winning once and Hutt twice, the most recent a 4–3 victory in the qualifying final two weeks ago.

Van Woerkom believes there is plenty of motivation to add the championship to the Intercity trophy Dalefield won in June and complete what has been an inconsistent season.

“The guys are a bit hard to get a read on, but there’s almost a sense of relief because we know we’re a good team, and there was always a bit of concern with the up and down hickledy pickledy season that we’ve had that we were never too sure whether we’d piece it together to get there and now there’s just one final hurdle.”

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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