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The focus on shootouts

The Farriers Dalefield men’s team will make a cross-province journey into the unknown for their Intercity matchup with Bay Independent in Palmerston North today.

While the Manawatu surface is familiar enough, Dalefield know very little about their opposition, who are a new team in the grade this year.

The two sides have not met in pre-season or in the past few years of competition.

Dalefield assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom is nonetheless wary of a side that looked sharp in recording a 4-0 victory in the round one fixtures last weekend.

“They have one or two very skilful players who have come up through the age-group system, and they might pose a few problems for us. We will just have to solve those problems as they come along.”

Van Woerkom wants to see better connections between the defence and forwards today. It was a facet that lacked the required finishing touches in last week’s 4-8 loss to Wellington Indians.

“There was individual excellence last week, but some of our attacks broke down because those extra links were not completed. We do so much better when the breakout combinations are in three or more. We create significantly better scoring opportunities when we have found space on the baseline, or better still, produced a one-on-one in the circle. And that’s what those more efficient combinations of players and passes can do.”

There has been plenty of one-on-one shootout training this week as the squad adjusts to the field goal ‘conversion’ rule and van Woerkom hinted at more variation at penalty corners to give Dalefield a chance at more field goals.

Next week’s game against College is, in effect, a quarterfinal and the pool jockeys for crucial top-four spots.

WOMEN

The Farriers Dalefield women open their Intercity season with a home game that will most likely be more intense than the ‘friendly’ they played last week.

The 12.30pm fixture against Hutt United could be an end-to-end encounter as both teams have shown a willingness to attack so far this year.

In the previous game between these two sides, Dalefield came away with a hard-fought win by the narrowest of margins, 3-2, and co-coach Michael O’Connor is expecting another tight encounter.

“It’s always a close game between these two. It can be quite tense in fact, because there’s some recent history of nail-biting contests, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few nerves early on.

“There were some key players out for that last game, so having them back this time may bring a bit more structure. They are tough, no question. They move the ball a lot and move it quickly, so it’s a big challenge ahead,” O’Connor said.

Like their male counterparts, the women allocated extra time on one-on-one shootouts at training this week. A field goal ‘conversion’ could prove vital today.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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