Dogs begin with win over Midlands

Mark Kake.
Mark Kake.
The two Southern teams had a promising start to the National Hockey League in Wellington at the weekend.

In the men’s competition, the Southern Dogs picked up a 2-1 win over Midlands while, in the women’s competition, the Southern Storm competed well in 3-0 and 2-1 losses to Canterbury and Auckland respectively.

Dogs coach Mark Kake said the team had played well and had benefited from having an ex-Midlands player in Nick Ross.

That enabled the team to go into the game with a knowledge of how Midlands was likely to play, which proved key.

It was Midlands that had the better start, however, as Andy Hayward scored off a penalty corner in the second minute.

Southern hit straight back though as Nathan Gilbert tucked one behind his back to finish a classy goal.

Ross had laid a nice ball across for Stirling Milicich, who was running down the left channel.

He passed from left to right into Gilbert, who was leading from right to left, to set up the equaliser.

Tina Bell-Kake.
Tina Bell-Kake.
From there, neither team was able to score until the 35th minute, when Nick Ross scored the winner after a one-two with Stirling Milicich.

Kake said the team had been a lot tighter defensively than previously, while also passing accurately.

He felt the side had improved as the game went on and the players became more confident in its systems.

The Dogs play North Harbour in its second game today and Kake is keen to ensure the team keeps  improving and does not let up now it has a win.

It will be without Ross, who is coming home to go to work, before returning later in the week.

Storm coach Tina Bell-Kake was happy with her team’s two matches, despite coming out on the wrong side of the ledger in both.

In the  first, it played a Black Sticks-laden Canterbury team and competed well.

A first-quarter goal to Rachel McCann meant it trailed early, but it was able to hold out to the third quarter, when two quick goals to Emily Wium and Bridget Kiddle made the margin three.

Kake-Bell said the Storm had been a bit nervous, but competed well and made it tough for Canterbury to score.

Against Auckland the Storm trailed 2-0 after 10 minutes, with Julia King and Deanna Ritchie both scoring goals.

It fought back though, replying straight away as Ellie Duncan scored from a penalty corner in the 11th minute.

The Storm  held Auckland scoreless the rest of the game and replaced its goalkeeper with 10 minutes to go in order to throw more at the attack to try to secure a draw.

Bell-Kake said the young team, which has just four players that have been to the tournament before, had stepped up well.It has today off, before playing its final pool game against Capital tomorrow.

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