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Gutted Wairarapa refocus

Michael O’Connor counterattacks against North Harbour with Rosie Rooderkirk in support. Amy Bunny looks on. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

HOCKEY

Wairarapa are targeting fifth place in the tier two national women’s championship in Dunedin, after a gut-wrenching 1-2 shootout loss to Southland on Tuesday.

The teams went into their final Pool B clash locked on three points, with the winners to progress to the semifinals, and the losers relegated to the fifth-to-eighth playoffs.

With the scores tied at 3-3 at fulltime the match went to the lottery of a shootout, and the southerners prevailed 2-1, with only captain Felicity Reidy able to beat Southland goalkeeper Cindy Irvine.

Southland made the early running in the game and took the lead after 11 minutes with a stroke to Elle Puller, only for Wairarapa to bounce back a minute later and equalise through a penalty corner [PC] to Abby Crawley. The southerners regained the lead almost on halftime with a field goal to Dayna Holland.

Wairarapa coach Michael O’Connor said his team were off the boil in the first two periods, with silly errors, and lack of accuracy keeping Southland in the game.

“At half time we talked about still being well in the game and putting a real effort in to minimise those little mistakes,” O’Connor said.

“They scored first in that third quarter putting us 3-1 down which could have seen us drop our heads, but that’s when the girls really started to play some good tough hockey, our mistakes were kept low, and there was some real gutsy work all over the turf.”

Felicity Reidy scored two goals against Southland. PHOTO/FILE

The pressure paid off with a field goal after 41 minutes to Reidy, who then found the back of the goal from a PC for the equaliser on the stroke of three-quarter time.

Wairarapa had the better of the final quarter, although they were unable to break down the stubborn Southland defence.

“I felt if the game went a few minutes longer, we could have scored again as Southland were starting to run out of steam and the girls were really going for the win, but unfortunately we couldn’t slot another goal and had to go to shootouts which are always a bit of a lottery.”

Both teams missed their first two attempts in the shootout, but Southland converted their next two, while Reidy had Wairarapa’s only success.

“As we thought Southland were a good side and we knew it was going to be a tough game. They are a lot like us, a team of battlers and they worked hard for each other like we try to do, and need to be congratulated on their win.

“The team are gutted we couldn’t get the win as they wanted to do Wairarapa proud, but they certainly gave it all they had and as their coach I’m very proud of the way they conducted themselves after the game.”

The defeat was Wairarapa’s second devastating loss in two games after North Harbour scored a 59th-minute goal to snatch a 1-0 victory on Monday.

Wairarapa will now play the fourth-placed team in Pool A, most likely Central Otago or the NZ Defence Force, in today’s playoff.

In the men’s tier one championship, Dalefield players have played a significant role in Wellington finishing top of Pool A.

Captain Dane Lett converted a PC on the stroke of three-quarter time which earned a 2-2 draw with Auckland. Benedict van Woerkom then scored the decisive goal in the shootout to give the capital side a 3-1 shootout victory.

Wellington progress to the championship pool along with Auckland, Canterbury, and Otago.

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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