City Highlanders’ strong defence in second half helps it retain shield

The City Highlanders bounced back from a frustrating shootout defeat last week to easily defend the Challenge Shield against the University Stingrays.

It took the three-time defending champions just five minutes to open their account on Saturday, as Mary Flatman finished off a good team move with a cool finish from the baseline that sneaked in at the near post.

The floodgates were open, and it was always going to be tough for the Stingrays to keep pace.

Fenella Ballantyne, Chloe Donaldson and Flatman again all scored from the field, before Annabelle Schneideman got in on the act, slotting home from a penalty corner.

There was some good news to come, though, for the Stingrays, as they responded with a penalty corner of their own just before the break.

It was not the cleanest of goals — Charlotte Watson’s straight hit took a healthy deflection off the right post defender — but the Stingrays did not care, and were chuffed to be on the board.

That seemed to spur on University as they tightened up their defence in the second half, somewhat frustrating City, who could only manage two more goals, both of which came in the third quarter, to Hayley Cox and Donaldson.

Both sides will take positives from the game, but ultimately City kept the shield with a 7-1 triumph.

On the back of their shootout win last week, Momona were very polished in claiming a 2-0 win over an improved Kings United side.

Momona had to work early but scored a couple of second-half goals, the pick of which was a reverse scored by Angelique Peyroux.

In the other premier women’s game, the University Huskies breezed to a 3-0 win over the Taieri Tigers thanks to an early goal to Holly Riddick and a brace from Rose Parkinson.

There were three good match-ups in the premier men’s competition, the pick of which was the final rematch between the Taieri Tuataras and the University Whales.

The Tuas were cruising at 3-0 up late in the third quarter after a rare Jayan Goldsworthy goal and a couple of trademark flicks from Jordan Ward, only for the Whales to storm back into it with goals from Joshua Wypych and Jacob Bell-Kake.

It had the preseason favourites sweating, but James Nicolson was able to seal the deal with a flick of his own to make it 4-2.

Albany made the first trip down to Gore, storming to an 8-2 win over Southland.

The highlight of the day was the return of Jack Cotton, who had spent 335 days on the sideline with a knee injury. Cotton did not muck about either, opening the scoring inside three minutes.

Kings United thumped the University Panthers 9-1 in the other game. The Panthers actually managed to score first through Maclean Sharp before Kings ran riot.

— Nicholas Friedlander