Cambridge grab final spot, while Northern Hearts extend season
A South Canterbury side will be crowned the men's division one hockey champions after Oamaru club Tainui were eliminated.
That was confirmed on Saturday after Cambridge defeated Temuka 5-4 in a thriller, while Northern Hearts knocked over Tainui by the same margin.
It means Cambridge move directly through to the August 26 decider and Temuka, who finished the round robin in second, get another life in their contest with Northern Hearts on August 19, after the latter claimed the sudden death semifinal.
Cambridge coach Hamish Brown was pleased with his team's effort.
"We knew it was going to be tight and it was exactly that.
"I thought the guys did really well. They went out there and stayed focused for the whole match."
Brown said said having next weekend off had its positives and negatives.
"It's good as some guys can freshen up, but in a way it's not as good because we want to carry on that momentum and all the other teams are playing next weekend, so hopefully we will figure something out."
He said it would be interesting to see who progressed next weekend.
"It's very tough to pick, we will be watching with interest."
Cambridge started superbly on the back of goals from strikers BJ Mason and Matt McAtamney.
Temuka replied with a penalty corner to Hayden Shaw and a superb David Robertson finish, before the former had them in front for the first time with his 23rd goal of the season.
Cambridge reclaimed the lead thanks to strikes from McAtamney and Mason, while William Ching was on hand to net their fifth from some good support play.
Temuka replied with a Duncan Rollinson touch but it was too late as they ran out of time.
Jono Ellis, Simon Small and Chris Chambers led the way for Cambridge, while Temuka's best were Warren Morgan, George Foster and Rollinson.
Northern Hearts held off a spirited Tainui to extend their season for another week.
Hearts player-coach Tim Greenall said it was a good performance from the team.
"We're really happy that's the first part ticked off, we player really well and the guys dug deep in the last five minutes to hold them out."
He said they were excited at facing Temuka.
"I think we're playing quite well and we know Temuka will bring a completely different challenge but we're excited and looking forward to it.
"They certainly have a few guys we will need to keep an eye on."
Tim Butler opened the scoring from a penalty corner and made it 2-0 soon after as Hearts were awarded a stroke.
Tainui rallied and replied through goals to Greg Webster and Josh Dalziel.
Hearts came out strong in the second stanza and bagged two goals through Tim Sheed and Ethan Mitchell, with the latters goal coming from a superb Andrew Ross pass.
Tainui grabbed one back through Dalziel, who was lethal from the drag flick.
Josh Smallridge got a deft touch on a pass inside the circle to make it 5-3, before Dalziel's third and 13th of the season, set up a thrilling finish.
Butler, Matt Cooper and Josh McArthur were outstanding for Hearts, while Dalziel, Paul Alden and George Smith played well for Tainui.