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Action aplenty over three days with four hockey finals

HOCKEY.

The Poverty Bay men’s and women’s hockey champions for 2021 will be crowned over the next three days, and the four finals have quality written all over them.

Covid-19 forced hockey administrators to radically restructure their playoffs and finals to comply with the restrictions on gatherings.

Crowd numbers will be limited for the games but the titles go on the line just the same.

Numbers will be limited to 100 a game, including players and supporters.

Paikea and Waituhi start the ball rolling tomorrow night at 6.30pm on the Hain Farming Turf at Harry Barker Reserve to decide the senior women’s (B Grade) championship.

“Paikea go in as favourites, but having game time in the playoffs last week will have helped Waituhi,” hockey commentator Tony Scragg said.

“Paikea have had the muscle over them each game they’ve played this season, but the Waituhi supporters will be right behind their team tomorrow night.

“They will try to spur their team on to an upset.

“But I think Paikea will come through with the goods. After all, they were so close to making the top four of the women’s competition.”

On Friday night, again at 6.30pm, GMC Green and YMP meet to decide the premier women’s (A Grade) title.

“YMP go into the decider undefeated this season, and must go in as red-hot favourites to win the women’s championship,” Scragg said.

“They’re unbeaten, but they have had a draw this season and that was with GMC Green, so that will be on their minds.

“However, the pressure always mounts for the team defending the title, and that’s the Green Machine.

“If they want to challenge YMP on Friday night, they will have to start the way they performed in the second half against Girls’ High in the semis last week.

“I think YMP will take it, even though they’ve not played in five weeks. I think they’ll be too strong.”

The men take the turf on Saturday afternoon, with Waituhi and Lytton Old Boys Masters first up in the senior men’s (B Grade) final starting at 12.30pm.

“Waituhi will want to add to the silverware they’ve already picked up this season, having earlier won the Covid Cup,” Scragg said.

“They’ve defeated the Masters every time they’ve met this year, with the score 9-0 last time out.

“So it’s going to be a tall mountain to climb for the Masters . . . the Everest Challenge has come early for them.

“But if the Masters get full numbers, we have seen in the past they are capable of an upset.”

At 3.30pm on Saturday, the season ends in style, with Lytton Old Boys NZ Fruits and YMP going head to head to decide the premier men’s (A Grade) championship.

“I cannot think of a better game to finish our season,” Scragg said.

“The Fruits have beaten YMP each time they’ve met this year, but they’ll be wary of a YMP side who had such a good run against Boys’ High last week.

“By all accounts, YMP will have a full-strength side on Saturday, which will be the first time this year they’ve had everyone on deck.’

Scragg said he felt the game was too hard to call either way.

“But having said that, I would love to see the Fruits come through because of the way they have performed this season. They deserve victory and the title.

“It’s just so good for the game here to see them back as a competitive side.

“Good luck to all the teams in the finals.”

KEEN CONTEST: YMP’s Lucy McHugh (left) is poised to challenge as Kristi Brown, of Waituhi, gets her stick to the ball in women’s club hockey. Waituhi play Paikea in the senior women’s final tomorrow, and YMP play GMC Green in the premier women’s final on Friday. File picture by Liam Clayton