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Do or die for Dalefield

Dylan Price [7] and Zac Caldwell hot on attack against Hutt United last Saturday. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

HOCKEY

Black Stick Dane Lett’s return can’t come at a better time for Farriers Dalefield as they push for a place in the final of the Wellington premier men’s championship in today’s sudden death playoff against Indians.

Lett only arrived back in New Zealand last night from the Black Sticks’ disappointing Commonwealth Games campaign, where the team failed to qualify for the semifinals.

But he is expected to play in the playoff, which will determine Hutt United’s opponents for the final in eight days.

Player/co-coach Benedict van Woerkom said the return of his fellow player/co-coach would be a massive fillip for Dalefield, who were beaten 3-5 by Hutt in the first round of playoffs last Saturday.

“His organisation was definitely missed. He gets in good zones and helps to organise the rest of the guys – he reads the game really well,” van Woerkom said.

“Dane dominates in the middle; his work rate is second to none, and he’s a guy who can easily slot back into the group with the way he plays.”

Lett also provides an added threat at penalty corners with his composure and power at the top of the circle producing countless goals over the seasons.

Daniel van Woerkom will be better for his first game last week after returning from a hamstring injury.

Lett’s likely availability also means it will be the first time this season that he and van Woerkom have a full contingent of players to choose from. That gives the pair a healthy problem of who to leave out of the gameday squad of 18.

In the past, secondary school players have been used to fill in for the team, but Wairarapa College student Alex Clark is pushing hard to make todays line-up. His outstanding form at the national U-18 tournament has led to his selection in the New Zealand U-18 development squad, and he has been a consistent performer for Dalefield over the season.

Dalefield must rediscover their winning mojo after two losses in three weeks to arch-rivals Hutt United. Dalefield dominated last week’s game for long periods but failed to capitalise on their superiority.

More accuracy on attack and defence, and higher work rates, are areas where van Woerkom is demanding improvement from last week.

“The attacking circle and defensive circle, it’s just our execution, and we know what we need to do in there, so it’s just a bit of focus in the two circles,” he said.

“Our work rate off the ball and are the players willing to do the hard yards to make space for someone else and to give the guy on the ball an easy option, and can they do that consistently even if they don’t get the ball?”

Van Woerkom is also wary of the threat posed by the unpredictable Indians, who, under the astute coaching of Hehmet Lala, have become a genuine championship contender after several lean years.

“Indians run hot and cold, and if they’re on, they’re the sort of team that can score three goals in five minutes.

“Just their style of play is quite flamboyant and a bit extravagant and can be hard to stop sometimes, and they have some really skilful players, but that can leave them vulnerable at the other end.

“They play a risk-and-reward type of game, and they will have to execute more often than not, otherwise we should capitalise on some of their mistakes.”

A Dalefield win would have them into their seventh final in eight years and a chance to win their fifth title.

The match hits off at 2.15pm today at the National Hockey Stadium.

The Farriers Dalefield women, who are out of championship contention, will play Hutt United in a friendly at 12.45pm at the National Hockey Stadium.

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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