NBS Stoke needed the full 70 minutes to finally subdue a gallant 10-man Tasman side in Saturday's season-opening men's first-division hockey match.
Stoke's 4-2 win did not fully do justice to a Tasman side that lost player-coach George Lowery in the first 10 minutes with a badly broken finger and led 2-1 at halftime.
Stoke's Hamish Sinclair opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a final touch from a goalmouth scramble, Tasman equalising when Ryan Clements scored with a well-placed backstick shot after a 30-metre solo run.
Tasman took the lead four minutes later when young Buller player Regan McLaughlan scored off a loose clearance from Stoke's defence.
Stoke attacked hard after the second-half restart, but poor finishing saw then unable to equalise. A save off the line by Tasman's Hamish Malcolm from a drag flick also helped keep them in the game, but Stoke's increasing dominance of possession eventually told when Gareth Olivier put away a cross after being left unmarked on the right-hand post.
Tasman were unlucky not to regain the lead when their first penalty corner of the game rebounded off the post. With Tasman by now down to only 10 men, the pressure eventually told with 10 minutes to go when Stoke's Alex Davies scored from a lucky deflection off a Tasman defender.
With time up and off their sixth penalty corner of the game, Brett Butcher finally put away a well-placed direct hit to complete the 4-2 scoreline.
For Tasman, goalkeeper Brad Fisher made some fine saves on debut and Malcolm's workrate was as high as ever. Stoke squandered many goal-scoring chances, although Mason Pahl and another division-one debutant, Josh Stove, impressed.
Federal also capitalised on the absence and injury to some key United players with a 6-2 win on Saturday.
With United's Paul Muncaster unavailable and Jamie Brown suffering a hamstring injury during the game, Federal gradually began to distance themselves after the scores had been locked at 1-all at the break.
Fifteen-year-old Buller representative Jessie Forsyth scored Federal's first-half goal, while Jason Bradley opened United's account from a penalty corner.
Further goals to Craig Brett and again to Forsyth put Federal ahead with around 15 minutes to go before another penalty corner strike by Brendon Burnett reduced the margin to 3-2. Federal surged clear at the finish, however, as Brett, Laurence Hillyer and finally Daniel Legg added another three goals to complete a convincing scoreline.
Sweeper Nick Perrott, Forsyth, Legg, Hillyer and Michael Wilkens impressed in a new-look Federal lineup, while Burnett and Bradley were the pick of a beaten United team.
In Friday's division one women's clash, Tasman opened their season with a decisive 9-0 win over Waimai after leading 3-0 at halftime.
Tasman struck early with two goals inside the opening two minutes to left wing Emma Patrick, but had to wait until virtually halftime before adding their third through right-half Rhianne Woolf. They piled on another six goals after the break as both Patrick and centre-half Maureen Williams completed hat-tricks, Woolf also scoring a second and Shanelle Kelly completing the scoresheet. Waimea College had earlier provided the opening round upset with a shock 4-1 win over defending champions Federal on Thursday.
- The Nelson Mail