Defending hockey champs Midlands make solid start

07:53, Sep 12 2009

Defending champions Midlands got off to a good start in the men's National Hockey League, beating Auckland 6-4 in the opening round today at Hamilton.

Malaysian import Raju Sandrakasi made a solid impact up front and Richard Petherick coverted two drag flick penalty corners.

Midlands went into halftime 3-1 up and maintained the two goal buffer to the end of the match.

At Whangarei, North Harbour were too strong for Northland, winning 6-1 while Wellington were equally dominant over Central, winning 7-1 at Palmerston North.

In the women's league, defending champions North Harbour also had a strong start beating Northland 4-0 at Whangarei.

Pre-tournament favourites Auckland had a disappointing start going down 0-2 to Midlands.

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Cathryn Finlayson was outstanding for Midlands, creating space and getting behind the Auckland defence, while Gemma Flynn and Chloe Rogers dominated the midfield, controlling the game well.

For Auckland Katie Glynn and Sam Harrison looked dangerous with the limited opportunities that they had but were unable to score.

Central disposed of Wellington 5-0 at Palmerston North.

Kayla Sharland and Michaela Curtis shone for Central, while former Black Stick Niniwa Roberts was Wellington's standout.

NZPA