Canterbury to play it safe with Halpenny

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012

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Ellen Halpenny is expected to play a limited role for Canterbury in their South Island derby against Otago in Dunedin tomorrow.

The Canterbury Tactix goal shoot is a standout at national provincial level but her Canterbury side showed they could win without her last week when downing a plucky Waikato 50-47.

With three games in three days in Tauranga in a fortnight to end the competition, it is understood Canterbury management will take a rather cautious approach to Halpenny and her dodgy foot.

A scan this week revealed the 22-year-old does not have a stress fracture as first feared, and she came through Thursday night's team training.

While coach Tania Hoffman would obviously rather have Halpenny available, there is plenty of shooting back up in the squad.

Elizabeth Hayman filled Halpenny's shoes against Waikato while the side also boast New Zealand under-21 shooters Sophia Fenwick and Gemma Hazeldine. Captain Anna Thompson has spent this season as a midcourter but has been a shooter for most of her career and, like Halpenny, she thrives at this level.

Canterbury sit atop the six-team first division, as one of two unbeaten teams.

Auckland-Waitakere are the other unbeaten side, but Canterbury do not meet them until the final round-robin match in Tauranga.

Otago sit fifth and are desperate to beat Canterbury to boost their semifinal chances.

They have had a draw, a one-goal loss to Auckland-Waitakere and were beaten by six goals by last year's beaten finalists Wellington last weekend.

So they are clearly a side with some ability although their execution at vital times has let them down.

Canterbury are already assured of a semifinal spot.

But a victory tomorrow would also guarantee them a top two position as well as earn them a somewhat easier semifinal.

Hoffman will be pushing her side to get ahead early, but is also likely to use any opportunity to get more players on court too.

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- The Press

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