Katikati Cougars came close to pulling off an upset in the Midlands Intercity women's hockey final at Tauranga on Saturday.
In an exciting match against last year's champions Thames Valley United, Katikati scored first with a quick goal to Natasha Leong in the second minute. Valley were stunned by this unexpected blow, and Katikati continued to apply pressure.
It took another 20 minutes before Valley got into their stride, with Ellie McCleery beating the Katikati goalie. Within a few minutes Katikati was back in front from a good goal from Anna Henson, and the crowd sensed that Katikati may be about to topple the champions.
However Annie McNaughton equalised for Valley just on halftime. The experience of the Valley team showed through in the second half, but it was not until 15 minutes from fulltime that McCleery scored her second of the match, a beautiful field goal, that saw Valley take the lead for the first time.
Both teams worked hard to find a weakness in their opponent but no further scoring occurred and Valley retained the Intercity Cup by the narrow margin of 3-2. Skilful Nicky Smith was prominent for Valley, while Rebecca Kersten worked tirelessly for Katikati.
The play-off for third saw Fraser Tech overwhelm CMS Mt Maunganui 5-0, with Emma Andrews scoring a brace and earning the top goalscorer award for the women's Intercity League.
The men's Intercity final was an entertaining display of finals hockey between defending champions Hamilton Old Boys and Suburbs-Piako.
Old Boys had the early edge and went to the break leading 2-1. The second half was tight and both teams had their opportunities, but it was Old Boys' Chris Ebert who finished the scoring late in the game to give his team a 3-1 triumph and the Intercity Cup for another year.
Ricky Hayward, who got the award for top goalscorer of the Intercity season, stood out for Hamilton Old Boys, while Stuart Pitu was the outstanding player for Suburbs, keeping his team in the game with his clever distribution.
The men's plate for the lower six clubs was won by Kohekohe with a 5-2 victory over Waikato.
Grand Final, Thames Valley United 3 (Ellie McCleery 2, Annie McNaughton) Katikati Cougars 2 (Natasha Leong, Anna Henson), HT 2-2.
Play-off for third place, Fraser Tech 5 (Emma Andrews 2, Freya Pike 2, Kayla Wilson) Mt Maunganui 0, HT 1-0.
Grand Final, Hamilton Old Boys 3 (Jury Herewini, Kyle Westerman, Chris Ebert) Suburbs-Piako 1 (Josh Pratt), HT 2-1.
Play-off for third place, Fraser Tech 4 (Orin Burmester 2, Jason Coventry, Joel Kosoof) Te Awamutu 2 (Reiner Vellinga, Rhys MacLachlan), HT 1-2.
Final, Kohekohe 5 (Chad Whitehead 2, Trent Thornton 2, Steve O'Callaghan) Waikato University 2 (Kieran McLean, Paul Hamlin), HT 2-0.
Play-off for third place, Waiau Pa 5 (Phil Hook 2, Kurt Goldsmith, Josh Allan, Caleb Wood) Thames Valley United 1 (Luke Newbold), HT 1-0.