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With the final having been decided for some weeks, competition leader Kings United was looking to carry momentum from the final round-robin game into Saturday’s match, while Albany Alligators were looking for some consolation to finish the year with, having missed the final for only the second time this decade.
Kings wasted no time in going on the attack and three consecutive penalty corners led to the opening score, Hitaua Doyle beating the defence to get on the scorecard. As can be the case in the men’s competition this season, the play started to get somewhat heated and after some heavy collisions, some players had to take a trip to the naughty seat. While no-one took advantage of the overlap such indiscretions can cause, Kings was able to double its lead through a Tom Caughley strike after less than 15 minutes. Albany began to look a little panicked and the pressure of being two goals behind seemed to be telling. However, as halftime approached, a well-executed deflection from the left post by Jared Hewitt halved the lead and threw a bit more life into the match. The red and blacks, including newly capped Black Stick Malachi Buschl, were not able to get back to parity and when Doyle added his second in the second half, the match closed down. The experienced Kings side eased to victory and confirmation of their points trophy victory and ownership of the challenge shield over the summer break.
In the other game, University Blue Whales also got a win before the final next week, dispatching their last-placed clubmates Uni Black Panthers 6-1. Taieri had the bye and will play Albany for third and fourth.
- Matthew West