Superb start as Southland silence big guns

The Southland women's hockey team made a terrific start to the national senior tournament in Wellington yesterday - winning their opening two games.

Brenda Hope netted the decisive goal with five minutes remaining, from a penalty corner, to lift Southland to a thrilling 3-2 victory over hosts Wellington.

Wellington took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, but Southland struck back to hit the lead, courtesy of two field goals by Aimee Heaps.

Hockey Southland elite coach Mark Stafford said it was an excellent result against a talented Wellington side.

"Everyone did their job very well in the second half," he said. "It was a really solid performance. In the first half, we played well, but didn't get the rewards."

Southland backed up that effort with another great result against Canterbury in their afternoon game, winning 4-2. The game was locked up at 2-2 at halftime, but Southland scored twice during the second half to secure the victory.

Hope and Heaps again got on the score sheet, with Wiki Burdon and Megan McCrostie also finding the back of the net.

Southland have a rest day today, before playing their next pool game against Taranaki tomorrow.

The Southland-Otago men's composite side, made up predominantly of Southland-based players, pushed title favourites Wellington in their game yesterday, before losing 7-5.

"Wellington are a class act," Stafford said. "They're a fairly fit, young mob, who kept coming at us."

Rhuebyn Prattley starred for the Southland-Otago team with a hat-trick of goals, while Chris Young and Kieran Hales also scored in the loss.

They take on the New Zealand Defence Force in their next game today.

The national senior tournament is the next tier down from New Zealand's pre-eminent national hockey league (NHL) competition.

Teams are allowed a maximum of three NHL players in their sides.