Wakanui Black cemented top spot with three weeks to spare in the South Canterbury men's division one hockey competition with a comfortable 6-1 victory over Tainui at the Aorangi Turf on Saturday.
Excelsior had one of their strongest performances of the season in beating Timaru Boys' High School 5-3, while Cambridge and Wakanui Blue fought out a 1-1 draw at Ashburton.
Tainui gave their counterparts a shock after three minutes when Richard Knight got a near perfect touch on a long ball across the face of goal to put them in front.
Wakanui Black however, settled into the game and their passing game was too strong.
Adam Wilson impressed in the midfield for Wakanui and controlled everything that came his way as well as netting two goals.
TBHS coach Ben Grant was disappointed with the outcome of their match after what was once again a positive start.
"We looked untouchable for the first 15 minutes and then we took it all a bit lightly from there. "You can't afford to get complacent against any of these senior sides and the boys found out why today."
TBHS scored the opening goal inside two minutes with Andrew Ross nailing home a second attempt from a penalty corner.
The schoolboys then found themselves behind the eight ball for the rest of the match with Excelsior finding the net on three occasions inside 15 minutes late in the first half.
Wakanui Blue squandered a massive opportunity to put away Cambridge on their home turf and increase the gap on the ladder from Northern Hearts.
Wakanui Blue scored the opening goal early in the second half but conceded a penalty stroke with two minutes to play in which Cambridge's Chesney Parore snuck a shot into the corner of the goal for the draw.
Cambridge coach Bruce Small said his side defended solidly when Wakanui applied the heat early in the second half and credited goalie Chris Chambers with keeping them in the game.
With three weeks left to play, Wakanui Black will host the major semifinal against club rivals Wakanui Blue or Northern Hearts.
Cambridge are likely to make the minor semifinal, but for TBHS, their focus now turns to the Rankin Cup in four weeks where they will be up against the top 16 schools in the country. Excelsior and Tainui look set to join TBHS in the plate section.
In South Canterbury women's division one action, top two sides St Andrews and Geraldine squared off in a tense encounter that would go a long way to deciding the round-robin winner. St Andrews made the best possible start with a lightning strike to Leah Gibson but Geraldine turned around the early pressure to put home three goals before halftime including two magical penalty corner touches to Fiona Brown.
Geraldine seemed to be cruising with a 4-2 buffer with eight minutes to play when St Andrews piled on the attack.
A miracle was in the making when St Andrews slotted home two goals thanks to some fancy stick skills by Amber Boyce.
St Andrews were awarded a penalty corner with only seconds on the clock and the score locked at 4-4.
After several shots Lisa Grant made no mistake in pushing the ball past the keeper to secure a miraculous 5-4 victory.
Geraldine coach Carl Hardacre said his side did not start or finish well but he was impressed with what his girls did in-between.
"It was a solid team effort but you have to play well for the 70 minutes to win games like this." Craighead picked up maximum points after being defaulted to by Timaru Girls' High School.
The results mean St Andrews and Geraldine will square off in the major semifinal in three weeks while Craighead will likely meet Collegians in the minor semifinal unless TGHS can cause an upset.
- The Timaru Herald