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Injuries hit Dalefield again

Hutt United vs Dalefield
NHS, 1.15pm
Injuries and unavailabilities continue to dog Farriers Dalefield in the Wellington Premier Men’s Championship.

Although Dalefield are already guaranteed a place in next weekend’s semifinals after finishing second in the round-robin, player-assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom was keen to set down a marker against old foes Hutt United and push for the number one seeding. That would likely give Dalefield a semifinal against Harbour City rather than Indians, who have proved trickier opposition and have, at times, had the better of the Wairarapa team.

However, Dalefield will be without some key personnel for this afternoon’s clash.

Player-coach Dane Lett is away with the Black Sticks preparing for the Oceania Cup, Alex Sumenko-Bucknell is likely to miss the rest of the season after retweaking his hamstring injury, Zac Hardie is out with a fractured leg, and captain Rowan Yeo and Marcus Ambrose are doubtful with niggling injuries.

Van Woerkom admits to frustration with the bad luck that has dogged the team for much of the season, and this latest run couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“It’s more about stringing together some good performances and building that momentum, and that’s the key heading into those last two weeks, having some confidence and momentum,’ van Woerkom said.

“This week, we’re back to scrambling and doing what we need to push through. We’ve had guys in and out and injuries one week and guys having other commitments on another week, and we might have to call on secondary school players.”

Van Woerkom remains confident of getting the better of Hutt, who they defeated 3–2 with a weakened side three weeks ago.

“The situation of the game will play out, but we want to try and play as how we want to play in the coming two weeks even if the personnel aren’t exactly right and try and continue building on what we’ve been doing rather than chopping and changing between structures and tactics and the like.

“We think Hutt are a good matchup for us, with our strengths against their weaknesses. The key factor is to avoid giving away penalty corners because they have a big PC threat.”

Dalefield vs Northern United
Clareville, 12.30pm
Northern United have been the form team of the Wellington Premier Women’s Championship, and Farriers Dalefield will need to be on top of their game if they are to upset the unbeaten leaders this afternoon.

Dalefield go into the clash at the Trust House Wairarapa Hockey Complex on the back of a disappointing 3–0 loss to Hutt United last Saturday.

Despite that, the Wairarapa side are still favoured to make this month’s grand final against Northern, with nearest rivals Harbour City needing wins over Hutt and Northern, including one with a bonus point, to pass them. However, co-coach Mike O’Connor says there needs to a be improvement on last week’s effort.

“Before last weekend, I thought we were doing pretty well, but we really dropped the ball and got pressured into making mistakes, and we didn’t do that very well, so we have to do better this week, especially against them, because they’re really organised,” O’Connor said.

“They’re certainly the team that’s really shone out this year, and they’ve set the standard for everybody else, so we’re just going to have to go for it and give them a good go for their money and see how we go.

“We’ve just got to knuckle down and be a lot tougher physically and mentally.”

O’Connor believes the loss to Hutt could be the kick in the pants the team needed with finals hockey just around the corner and is confident his team will present Northern with a stern challenge.

Northern won their two previous clashes, 4–1 in the Wellington championship and 6–3 in the Intercity.

NZ Under-18 squad member Emma Mcleod returns after missing last week’s match; however, former Black Stick Felicity Reidy is still out with a hamstring strain.

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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