Upper Hutt teams hit the high note

COLIN WILLIAMS
Last updated 15:39 09/05/2012

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Local premier sport is on a winning high with Upper Hutt rugby, football and netball teams all at the top of their competitions.

In rugby, Upper Hutt's 34-20 home win over Tawa was augmented by a surprise first loss to Hutt OB-Marist on Saturday.

These results leave Upper Hutt in pole position as the Swindale Shield reaches the halfway stage, ahead by points differential of HOBM, their opponents on Saturday (see page 47).

In Hutt Valley premier netball, a much strengthened and better organised Upper Hutt Maidstone United continued on their unbeaten way in dealing to Ulalei by a more than 40-goal margin.

After three rounds, Maidstone and defending champions, Naenae White, were already making no race of the eight-team competition, from where they will springboard to the Wellington Regional Super League for the second half of the season.

The side, coached by Deborah Hunter and captained by Renee Casey, started strong against Ulalei in netting 21 goals before their opposition had reached double figures. Maidstone pushed on to a 42-25 halftime lead and the maroon and whites, stacked with Super League hardened players, coasted to their 81-41 victory.

Already the May 26 match against Naenae White is being much anticipated as the likely decider of premier supremacy in the Hutt Valley competition.

After a relative decline in player numbers in recent seasons, Maidstone organised big time in the off-season on several fronts.

This year the club is fielding 11 teams through the grades while the move to base its off-court activities at Upper Hutt rugby's Maidstone Park clubrooms has been a positive initiative.

Upper Hutt City football's 3-1 win over Miramar Rangers, before a good-sized Harcourt Park crowd on Saturday, took them an imposing five points clear of a second-placed Island Bay in the Premier League.

The side's focus will change this week as they have a tough opening game in the knock-out Chatham Cup, away to a Central League team in Tawa (Redwood Park, Saturday, 2pm).

Goals on Saturday to Luke Grindlay, Alexis Andres Castilo and Javier Montalba Leal brought the win with Castilo (5) and Leal (6), further establishing themselves as the competition's leading scorers in a side which has scored 20 goals and only conceded three.

"So far, so good," coach Pedro Garciassays.

"We are working really hard as a team, at training, at everything and that has been the difference."

The experienced Wayne Rooker's return - after missing most of last season when overseas - has been important, Garcias says. "Wayne has been superb, both as the skipper and as a player, with his experience and his work in the midfield.

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"He's a magic player."

Chris Campbell's consistency and aestheticism at keeper is also a key dynamic in the side's front running success, Garcias says.

- Upper Hutt Leader

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