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Must-wins for Dalefield

Both Dalefield teams are in rare territory, sitting outside the top four in their respective Wellington Premier Championships. CHRIS COGDALE previews this afternoon’s crucial games at the Trust House Wairarapa Hockey Complex.

Men

Dalefield vs Victoria 12.30 pm

Farriers Dalefield player-coach Benedict van Woerkom is anticipating a physical niggly game when his team take on the winless Victoria this afternoon at Clareville.

The home side are entitled to warm favouritism for the crucial match, but van Woerkom is not prepared to write off the chances of a new-look Victoria side.

“They have a lot of new faces from last year, and while they were relatively competitive, they’ve lost four or five guys, and they have new faces who are less experienced,” van Woerkom said.

“They play scrappy hockey and are willing to get into that physical battle and just make life tough.”

Van Woerkom believes being patient, being disciplined in their decision making and sticking to the game plan will be key to unlocking the Victoria defence.

“We have senior experienced players back, and if we’re disciplined and stick to our structures, we’ll hopefully have a good day, and ideally, we will get a bonus point [for winning by five goals].

The return of Alex Sumenko-Bucknell adds starch to the midfield, while Rowan Yeo is also back, giving Dalefield a genuine goalscoring threat.

National under-21 squad goalkeeper Xander Redgrave will, however, miss the clash because of covid, giving the opportunity to promising Rathkeale keeper Billy Johnson, who will likely get some game time behind Jack Wylie.

Nathan Whiteman remains sidelined with a serious knee injury.

A win could lift Dalefield to third place, depending on the outcomes of the matches featuring nearest rivals Northern United and Harbour City.

Women

Dalefield vs Victoria 2.15 pm

Former Black Stick Felicity Reidy is the big loss for Farriers Dalefield ahead of today’s must-win clash at Clareville.

Reidy has been battling a niggly hamstring strain for some time and was meant to miss last week’s encounter with Northern United, but played and scored Dalefield’s only goal in the 6–1 defeat, and coach Michael Sacke said she needs to rest up to avoid tearing the troublesome muscle.

Experienced midfielder Finola O’Boyle and striker Charlotte Whyte are back after missing the Northern loss and will bring much-needed steel to the spine.

Although in fifth place, with just two wins, Dalefield have shown in most of their games that they are genuine top-four contenders, while Victoria’s record of one win and a massive goal difference of minus 18 would suggest they are likely to struggle near the bottom of the table.

Despite that, Sacke is not taking the visitors lightly.

“They have struggled, but last weekend they held Hutt [United] up until the end of the third quarter, but then they lost 7–1, but they’re not going to be easy,” Sacke said.

Failing to make the most of their opportunities has hurt Dalefield, with Sacke saying they cannot afford a repeat of last week’s effort.

“We’ve got to score; we had enough opportunities last week, and we’ve just got to keep concentrating on defence. We went to sleep for 10 minutes, which cost us three goals, and we cannot afford to do that again.

“Fundamentally, we had enough opportunities to put them under pressure last week, and we never took them.”

“I’m pretty confident with what we’ve been working on, and if we put everything together, we should be able to win. We have to pitch up on the day and do the job.”

A victory with a bonus point could push Dalefield into fourth place ahead of Toa, who play the slick Hutt United.

The men’s and women’s championships take a break after this weekend, with both Dalefield teams to play in the Intercity competition, featuring teams from Wellington, Manawatū and Hawke’s Bay.

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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