Wakanui Black extend lead

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2012

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Wakanui Black extended their lead at the top of South Canterbury men's hockey by getting the better of club rivals Wakanui Blue 3-1, in Ashburton, on Saturday.

Northern Hearts picked up a vital bonus point in their 4-1 win against Tainui, while Cambridge downed Excelsior 3-1.

Wakanui Black now have an 11-point lead at the top of the table after they were able to turn around a lack of success against their second-placed clubmates, who handed them their only loss this season, 5-2, back in May.

Wakanui Black player-coach Mark Bennett said he was delighted with the intensity his team showed in the first half, in which they earned a 2-0 lead.

"We really starved them of possession, which is what we tried to do last time, but we couldn't score."

Goals from Ryan Wilson, Sam Bennett and James Tavendale gave the table-toppers the edge on the scoreboard.

Wakanui Blue player-coach Sam Moore said his team were run ragged with long periods on defence.

"I'm surprised they didn't score more," he said. "At times it felt like all we did was defend. When we did get the ball, we were too tired to do anything with it."

He said Mitchell Moore performed strongly at the back, but they lacked the punch up front to score multiple goals.

Northern Hearts coach Simon Cooper said he saw an improvement in the attacking work of his team after they overcame an early 1-1 stalemate to prevail, thanks to a strong second half.

"What we did in the attacking circle was mint.

"The first 25 minutes we were a bit slack, but we came good and we'll build on it."

The work of Zeb Lowan and Josh Smallridge was crucial in defence.

Tainui player-coach Shaun Cunningham said his team tried hard and at 1-1 early they were in with a chance.

"I was confident of getting a win when we arrived, especially the way we played last time, but Hearts came with the right attitude (Saturday). They didn't bitch and moan, they just played hockey."

Cambridge coach Bruce Small was happy to escape with a win against bottom-placed Excelsior.

"It wasn't much of a game by either team. We scored three goals in the first half and could have had many more. Excelsior had their chances, too, but we managed to keep them out."

With the win, Cambridge leap-frogged Timaru Boys' High School into fourth, who had a bye.

There was no division one women's action on Saturday.

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- The Timaru Herald

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