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Dalefield forced to shuffle team around

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Hutt United vs Dalefield

A place in the final of the inaugural Intercity Championship awaits the winners of this afternoon’s semifinal at Wellington’s National Hockey Stadium [NHS].

Farriers Dalefield finished second in their group behind Indians, whereas Hutt United won their group and are unbeaten in all competitions this season.

The inter-district championship involving teams from the Wellington, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay competitions has provided players with the chance to come up against different opposition, an aspect that Dalefield assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom says his players have enjoyed, and they are determined to finish it on a high.

Standing in their way are old foes Hutt, who have been in sublime form, winning all their games this season, including a 5-3 defeat of Dalefield.

“Hopefully, we can get over top of them this time,” van Woerkom said.

“They’re still riding their wave of success, but we’ve also improved significantly this last few weeks especially since we lost to them. We’re pretty keen to another crack at them because we had a lot of players out last time.”

A factor that has added interest to the competition is the introduction of a shootout conversion, where the scorer of a field goal takes on the goalkeeper in a shootout for an extra goal,

With the potential of building a big score quickly, van Woerkom said, “The conversions are vital, especially when it comes down to these crunch time games, which are going to be a bit closer than our round-robin games.

“It’s very important, and we practice them, and the interesting dynamic is that the person who scores the goal has to take it, and it might be that someone is an excellent goal scorer, but they don’t have the confidence to take the shootout.”

The always confident van Woerkom believes Dalefield are the best team on paper and back to near full strength are good enough to end Hutt’s unbeaten run, as long as they concentrate on their own game.

“Our focus is still on our defensive lapses, and if we can have as few of those as possible, what that means is that the opposition have to create their own chances rather than on the back of our mistakes.”

Hit off is at 2.15pm at the NHS

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Northern United vs Dalefield

Farriers Dalefield co-coach Mike O’Connor is embracing the underdog tag against the high-flying Northern United in their Intercity semifinal at the NHS at 2.30pm today.

The two teams have met once this year, with Northern taking the honours 4-1, but O’Connor has his players focused on reversing that result and making next weekend’s final.

“They’re an awesome team, and they’ve got a good way to play the game. They spread the ball really well, and they move it fast, and they have the fast players that compliment that sort of game,” O’Connor said.

“They think they’re top dogs at the moment, and we want to

knock them over and get them to pull their heads in a bit. Also, going back into the Wellington competition, we want to give them a fright so they don’t think they’re going to roll over everybody.”

Hampering Dalefield’s prospects this afternoon is the unavailability of strikers Maddie Taylor and Pippa Rawleigh, along with Brigette Mossman, who played her last game last week, because she is pregnant, and Jorja Sake. A regular from previous seasons Katie-Ann Saywell, has returned to boost the side for the game.

The absence of key strikers has forced a change of game plan, with O’Connor intending to get the players to play higher up the field. That will likely see defensive players Michael O’Connor and Reese Robertson push forward more to pressure the dangerous opposition attackers.

“We want to get in their face and really push them because if they get away on you, they’re really hard to stop and are really quick.”

O’Connor is looking forward to what will be a tough challenge and said there is the belief and plenty of big game experience to come out on top.

“It’s just getting out of our comfort zone and physically pushing yourself, and they do that pretty well, and they drive really hard to get the most out of themselves, so that will definitely be on the cards this weekend, and it’s going to be a massive game if we can flip these girls over.”

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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