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Do or die for Dalefield

The Farriers Dalefield teams take a step into the unknown for today’s must-win games in the second round of the Intercity Championship.

The men are at home to Manawatu side Feilding at the unusual start time of 10.45am at the Trust House Wairarapa Hockey Complex at Clareville, while the women travel to Park Island, Napier, to play Havelock.

Dalefield men’s coach Benedict van Woerkom admits to knowing little about Feilding other than they are up and up-and-coming team who started in premier three and won premier two last season.

“I believe they’re well coached by a New Zealand age group coach,’ van Woerkom said.

“They will be well-drilled and organised, and I’m expecting a Harbour City-type team with quality players who will work hard and scrap for the 50–50 balls. Our goal is to win that battle, and if we can do that, I think we’ll win the skill battle.

“We’re not expecting an easy match by any means. Based on the Palmy [Manawatu] competition and where they’re placed there, they’re obviously handy enough and somewhere in that middle ground.”

Even though they lost Saturday’s opening match 2–0 to Indians, Dalefield took a step up from their previous two matches in the Wellington championship, which resulted in a shock loss to Northern United and a disappointing draw with Victoria, and van Woerkom is demanding a continuation of that improvement.

“The real focus is on us, and if they’re going to be a scrappy physical team with some structure, we just need to play as we did last week, where we were structured and created opportunities.

“We need to put the ball in the back of the net from set piece and field goals.”

Dalefield will, however, be without international Dane Lett, away with the Black Sticks at the FIH Nations Cup in Poland, and the experienced Hamish Finlayson, who is battling with a niggly Achilles tendon.

The return of veteran striker Rowan Yeo is a boost for the side who have struggled to convert their chances.

Feilding share the lead with Indians after their 3–1 win over Te Awa in the first round, and with only three rounds in each group, van Woerkom describes it as a must-win game.

“If we don’t win this one, then there’s almost no chance that we can make the top four semifinals,” he said.

Keeping a lid on Black Stick great Emily Gaddum [Naylor] will be the key to success for the Dalefield women against Havelock.

The young Dalefield side failed to control Black Stick Aniwaka Haumaha in their 11–0 loss to Hutt United in last Saturday’s opening round, and coach Michael Sacke has been stressing the importance of shutting down Gaddum, who played 274 tests for New Zealand, but at 38 is still a quality player.

“We have to control what she does,” Sacke said, “We’ve got to make her pass and don’t give her time. We have to put her under pressure and stop her from dominating the game.”

Dalefield do have some inside information on what to expect from Havelock, with Finola O’Boyle having played for the club during her time in Hawke’s Bay.

Former Black Stick striker Felicity Reidy remains sidelined for Dalefield with a pesky back-hamstring strain; however, Katie McAnulty returns to strengthen the defensive line, and Charlize Baron is also back after missing the loss to Hutt.

With Havelock beating Manawatu side HSHC 1–0 and joining Hutt as first-round winners, the game is a must-win. A defeat would almost certainly end any chance of a top-four semifinal.

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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