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In the second-to-last week of round robin play defending champion University Blue Whales were looking to maintain momentum against a Taieri Tuataras side seeking the only scalp it was missing this season.
University had already confirmed its place in the final in a fortnight but they would not want to lose to the young Taieri side for the first time in three years. The Whales play by far the fastest style of hockey in the competition and this match was no different, their ball movement causing all sorts of early problems for the Taieri forward defence. While some early chances went begging, they opened the scoring through a penalty corner drag flick from Callum Dempster.
As a pattern developed, Taieri struck back midway through the first half after a supreme ball into the danger area was deflected in by a diving James Nicolson.
University regained the lead before the break as Taieri’s attempts to match the Whales’ speed of play led to some basic errors. The second half was played out in a similar fashion to the first, as University pressed hard on attack and stifled any counterattack chances the Tuataras came up with.
The lead was extended to two through an extremely scrappy goal, where the ball bounced around like in a pinball machine as at least three or four failed clearances eventually led to the ball rolling into the Taieri goal.
Taieri scored again, somewhat against the run of play, with another deflection.
The Whales, however, were not to be denied their victory and scored again to put the match away 4-2. The other scorers for Uni were Kailin Dayal, Lucien Burt and Tim Matthews.
In the other match, Albany walloped the pointless University Black Panthers 12-0.
Competition leader Kings United had its final bye of the season.
- Matthew West