Midlands miss out
Midlands made history but came up short of the big prize at the national under-21 hockey tournament which finished in Dunedin over the weekend.
The finals appearance for both Midlands teams was a first after both had finished fifth in recent tournaments.
Midlands women's team demolished Canterbury 6-2 (including a hat-trick by Tauranga Black Stick Gemma Flynn) on Friday to reach the final, where they played Canterbury again.
Midlands led 1-0 at the break after a Kate Kernahan goal, but Canterbury equalised in the second spell. Then Canterbury's Bridget Blackwood scored the winning golden goal in extra time to give her team the trophy.
Midlands men's team met Northern (a combination of North Harbour and Northland) in their final, going down 4-1. Midlands went down 1-0 early before a strong cross by Abir Mukherjee found the oustretched stick of James Linehan, in what must have been the goal of the tournament.
The game was tied up at 1-all at halftime but sustained pressure from Northern saw them score three unanswered goals in the second half.
Midlands were rewarded with 12 players selected into the national under-21 men's and women's squads, with Flynn also named player of the tournament.
Both the men's and women's national squads, with 30 players in each, will be invited to a development squad later in the year where teams of 20 will be named. Both teams have been invited to international competitions later this year.
Midlands players named in the New Zealand under-21 squads:
Men: Cam Hayde, Tom Lysaght, Abir Mukhergee, Matt Rees Gibbs, Nick Ross, Zac Woods.
Women: Samantha Charlton, Natasha Cotton, Gemma Flynn, Kate Kernaghan, Rachel Lecky, Brooke Neal.
Women's Saturday results: Final: Canterbury 2 Midlands 1. For 3rd place: Auckland 3 Northern 1. For 5th place: Capital 3 Southern 0.
Men's Saturday results: Final: Northern 4 Midlands 1. For 3rd place: Auckland 4 Southern 2. For 5th place: Capital 3 Canterbury 1.
Kayaks belonging to three Olympic hopeful paddlers have been returned.
The canoe slalom kayaks went missing from Mangahao, where the Waiariki Academy of Sport is on a five-day training camp, last Friday.
Beijing Olympian Luuka Jones said on Friday she was devastated by the thefts as it meant she and fellow paddlers Mike Dawson and Louise Jull would have to cut the camp short and also face a $4000 bill to replace each of the special boats.
Jones said police called with some good news.
"They said somebody had seen the story on the news and confessed to having picked up the kayaks which were apparently in long grass near where we left them," Jones said.
"They said they had found them and were going to go to the police but hadn't managed to that day. We are stoked to have them back and are charging on with our training camp."
The trio are among five of New Zealand's top paddlers in the Manawatu region for the camp, which is using the national whitewater course. They had only squeezed in one session on the course on Thursday before the kayaks went missing.
On Friday they held a surf ski session at Otaki surf club as well as a gym session but they were preparing to pack their bags and come home early. Dawson is due to fly out tomorrow for his overseas campaign, while Jones and Jull leave in a month for world cup and world championship races.
Wins clocked up
Bay of Plenty's masters badminton teams have opened the new inter-regional representative season in winning fashion, with the province's No2 and 3 teams grabbing an 80 per cent success rate.
Bay's masters No2 team - men Noel Stevens, Craig Aplin, Brian Christensen, Ablie Pryor and Wayne Jefferson and women Leigh-anne Smith, Claire Spackman, Carolyn Andersen, Michelle Chambers and Denise Johnson - played their first two ties at Rotorua.
In their first match against Manawatu No1, Bay won 9-3, with one of the games was a default after Aplin injured his calf muscle and had to withdraw.
In the second tie against Waitakere 3, Bay prevailed 9-3.
The region's No3 team - men Nick Baker, Kesh Gurung, Bob Cyca, Gary Cooper and Stan Codlin and women Eve Cooper, Erin Swanson, Sue August, Janice Body and Lisa Ainsley - played their first three games in Hamilton.
In their first tie against North Harbour 4, Bay went down 8-4, although they bounced back to down Northland 9-3.
In the third tie against Auckland 6, Bay scraped home 7-5.
Bay's women players won all four doubles but their men lost three of their four doubles encounters. Gurung and Codlin won the No1 combination doubles in a three-set thriller to give Bay a 5-3 lead at the start of the mixed doubles.
Bay lost two of the mixed doubles but won the last two for a 7-5 win.
With four teams involved in Chatham Cup first round games over the weekend, a truncated round of games in the two Waikato-Bay of Plenty Federation leagues saw Rotorua United consolidate fourth place in division one with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Otorohanga at Neil Hunt Park.
Played at a frenetic pace, it was end-to-end action for 90 minutes, although there was little constructive or controlled football from either side.
While there was no lack of effort and enthusiasm, both teams were guilty of giving hard-earned possession straight back to the opposition. With plenty of goal-mouth action, both keepers were called on to make some critical saves while the woodwork also played its part in thwarting scoring attempts.
Kieran Vandergoot gave United the lead with a well taken goal after 30 minutes. Steve Turner looked as though he had doubled their lead but was denied by a great save while Otorohanga hit the post and Andrew Gibbs made two good reflex saves.
Otorohanga started the second spell aggressively and Gibbs was called on again, but the visitors were on level terms when Scott Gilmour split the defence and gave Gibbs no chance.
A frenetic pace was maintained as both sides looked for the winner. Paul Mullen broke the deadlock when he flicked on a Josh O'Sullivan free kick and he went close to scoring again only to see a thunderbolt volley hit the crossbar. Otorohanga threw everything at United in the last 10 minutes but were denied twice by great saves from Gibbs.
Melville defeated Ngaruawahia 3-1 at Gower Park while AFC Fury added to Whakatane Town's woes when they prevailed 5-2 at Te Puna.
Second division games followed the form book with Te Awamutu 3-0 winners over bottom of the table Cambridge, Tauranga City recording a solid 4-0 win over Rotorua United and Katikati beating Matamata 5-2.
Mt Maunganui men reasserted their place in the pecking order with a 4-1 win over Otumoetai in Intercity hockey's premier grade at Mt Maunganui on Saturday.
In a predictable local derby, CMS Mt Maunganui reinforced its dominant position with a business-like win over a Bayleys Otumoetai team which is in a re-building phase and has yet to record a win this season.
Barry Watson opened the scoring for the Mount after working his way through an opening at the top of the circle, then Brad Bellamy converted a penalty corner with a strong drag-flick.
Aaron McNabb dribbled through the Mount defence and blasted in a goal for Otumoetai just before the break. Mount added two more goals, both by skilful Brad McKenzie, after which the game lost intensity.
Mt Maunganui wasted opportunities with a reluctance to pass when entering the opposing 22 and Otumoetai could take some consolation that the scoreline was considerably closer than some pundits were predicting.
Pukekohe Indians scored the weekend's boilover with a 6-0 thumping of a Thames Valley side depleted with two players away at the national under-21 tournament and vastly experienced centre-half Casey Henwood out with injury.
There were no premier women's games because of the national tournament.
Intercity premier men's scores:
Mt Maunganui 4 (Brad McKenzie 2, Barry Watson, Brad Bellamy) Otumoetai 1 (Aaron McNabb) HT 2-1.
Pukekohe Indians 6 Thames Valley 0, HT 5-0.
Hamilton Old Boys 5 Rotorua Indians 2, HT 3-1.
Rotorua Aces 2 Suburbs-Piako 1, HT 2-1.
Fraser Tech v Onewhero and Waikato University v Kohekohe were deferred due to players on duty for Midlands at the National Under 21 tournament.
Bay of Plenty Rugby has locked in Tradestaff as the Steamers' major sponsor for the fourth successive season, with the Christchurch-based company's name featuring on the front of a Steamers Centennial jersey which lists the names of each of the 1159 players to have represented the Bay of Plenty in first class games.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said they were proud of their link with the employment company.
"Tradestaff came on board as principal sponsor of the Steamers at a time when the union were in a dire state. While it may have seen by some as a gamble they saw the potential of our union and province."
The Centennial jersey are on sale at the Bay Union office at Baypark and will shortly be on sale in local retail outlets.