Dalefield vs Indians
Farriers Dalefield player-assistant coach Benedict van Woerkom believes tomorrow’s encounter with Indians at the Trust House Wairarapa Hockey Complex at Clareville is a trickier proposition than last Saturday’s clash with the championship leaders Hutt United.
Dalefield defeated Hutt 3-2, turning on a gutsy performance with a severely depleted side, and although that effort will give the players confidence, van Woerkom reckons Indians are a more difficult side to play.
“It’s a funny one because Indians are fourth on the table, but they’re the team that gives us the most problems,” van Woerkom said.
“Some of their match-ups work a bit better against us, and with some of their speed and skill up front, that usually challenges our defence a little bit.
“They leave themselves s vulnerable at the back, they throw numbers forward, and they like a high-scoring game. There are going to be goals, hopefully, more for us than them.”
The three games between the two this season have been high-scoring affairs, with Dalefield winning the first round 4-3, losing their Intercity clash 8-4 [inflated by field goal shootout conversions], and then triumphing in the Intercity final in a shootout after the game finished 4-4.
Indians also claimed bragging rights at the end of last season, knocking Dalefield out in the semifinals before going on to claim the championship title.
Although Dalefield will have Rowan Yeo, Hamish Finlayson, and Cody Linton back, they will be without player-coach Dane Lett, away at a Black Sticks Oceania Cup selection camp, Alex Sumenko-Bucknell [hamstring], and Zac Hardie, who is out with a fractured leg suffered when taken out by Victoria goalkeeper Max Ruffle in their recent game, which could see him sidelined for the season.
“If we build on last week with the few players we have coming in, I’m confident. We need to focus on our performance, and the results will take care of themselves,” van Woerkom said.
A win tomorrow would virtually guarantee Dalefield a top-two finish and two lives for the playoffs, with only the struggling Northern United to play next Saturday.
Dalefield vs Karori
A win over Karori tomorrow afternoon at Clareville would seem a formality for Farriers Dalefield, but co-coach Mike O’Connor is taking a cautious approach against the bottom-of-the-table side.
Dalefield are second in the Wellington Premier Women’s Championship on 25 points, five behind unbeaten leaders Northern United, and seven points clear of Harbour City in third place, with Hutt United a further two points behind.
With tricky encounters against Hutt [away] and Northern [at home], victory, and preferably with a bonus point for winning by five goals, is vital for Dalefield’s prospects of finishing in the top two and qualifying for next month’s final.
“We definitely have to win it, then the next game is against Hutt, and to be 100 per cent sure of getting in the top two, we have to beat Hutt regardless of what happens on Saturday,” O’Connor said.
Dalefield won the first-round fixture with Karori 4-0 and pushed hard for the bonus point but were denied by some outstanding goalkeeping by Michaela Chan, who represented Wairarapa at last year’s national championship.
O’Connor said his players must do a better job when taking on Chan and need to work the ball around her and not try to hit straight through her.
He can take confidence, though, from Dalefield’s last two games, which have resulted in bonus point wins over Victoria [9-1] and Toa [7-1].
“We played pretty well last week and the week before, and we’re getting things right, and as long as we keep our passing game going, which we can always do better, but I think we’ll go alright.
“Feeling pretty confident, as long as we put in a good effort, and once again, we won’t worry about getting that bonus point until we get the game under control and are doing the things that we want to and if it turns up in the end that would be good.”