Thorne eyeing greener pastures

Equestrian: Tauranga para-equestrian Jodie Thorne and her horse San Mateo Tech Effects are celebrating finishing their first year competing together, with Thorne now looking forward to the World Equestrian Games and 2016 Paralympics with more confidence after finding the right horse.

"At the beginning of last year I wasn't sure I would ever find the right horse after eight hard months of searching," Thorne said. "But then Tech turned up and we clicked from the start."

Thorne has FSH Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative muscle condition that affects her strength and balance. The Max Foundation for New Zealand Women awarded her a grant in June 2010 to purchase a para-dressage horse to enable her to start competing. "None of this would have been possible without their support and belief in me and my goals from the beginning."

But the horse-hunt wasn't easy with Thorne's very specific requirements. "I can only ride at a walk due to my muscle weakness.

"It was hard finding a horse who responded well to the lop-sided way I sit in the saddle, and who wasn't phased by the unique way I use my hands and legs to give the aids."

But Tech, a pinto gelding, coped well with everything that was thrown at him and the pair became a team 12 months ago.

The pair's biggest achievement this year was scoring 70 per cent for their musical freestyle at the para-equestrian national championships in March.

The following week Thorne competed at Horse of the Year, New Zealand's biggest equestrian event. "We received some really great feedback from the international judges. They can see Tech's potential and it's incredibly exciting for us to look towards our future competition career together."

Businesses in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato have also put forward their support, including JLT Insurance, Farmlands Te Puna,, Savvy Touch, Saddlery Warehouse Cambridge and Blue Mist Equine Veterinary Centre. The latest addition to their sponsorship team is Eleos Trust and JC Trailers.

Agony for pros

Golf: Tauranga professionals James Hamilton and Ben Taylor have narrowly missed a spot in the field for this week's New Zealand PGA Pro-Am championship at The Hills near Queenstown.

Six New Zealanders filled all six spots at the Titirangi qualifying venue. Royal Auckland amateur Fraser Wilkin leading the way by four shots with a two-under par 68.

Wellington's Peter Spearman-Burn and Rhys Bishop of Auckland shared second place on 72, with Mark Purser of Hamilton and Clarke Osborne from Auckland tied fourth on 73.

Taylor (Mt Maunganui) and Hamilton (Omanu) were among four players left to play-off for the last spot, with Te Anau pro David Klein making birdie on the first sudden-death hole.

Omokoroa pro Kieran Muir shot 77 in the qualifier, with Omanu pro Andrew Gurney last among the hopefuls with an 89.

Tuffey still sharp

Cricket: Former Black Cap Daryl Tuffey turned in a man of the match performance as Northern Maori won a close Twenty20 contest with the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association masters team that was full of former internationals.

After taking 2-9 in his bowling spell at Smallbone Park, Tuffey opened the batting and blasted a rapid 41 as the Maori team chased down their target of 123. Tuffey was especially severe on current Black Caps Twenty20 bowler Roneel Hira, hammering 22 runs from one of his overs.

An opening partnership of 52 with an equally aggressive Jono Boult (26) gave the Maori team a flying start. Maori captain Leighton Parsons (16) and Haamiora Clarke (22 not out) then batted responsibly in the face of some searching bowling from the ever-competitive Dion Nash (0-16 from 4 overs) and Craig Pryor (2-25).

Northern Maori reached their target with an over to spare to win by six wickets.

Earlier the NZCPA team had managed 122-5 from their 20 overs due largely to an aggressive 41 from Richard Jones at the top of the order and an unbroken 46-run partnership between Adam Parore and Shane Thomson.

Tamati Clarke's left arm spin and steady bowling from the medium pacers kept the run rate in check on a Smallbone Park outfield slowed by heavy rain.

Respect rewards

Football: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Football is taking action to incentivise the respect of match officials this season following 14 judicial hearings in 2001 relating specifically to referee abuse.

Waikato-Bay of Plenty will introduce an initiative in specified leagues, with teams having the opportunity to win their regional affiliation fees back.

"Respect is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football to create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment in which the game can be played," Wai-BOP chief executive Cam Mitchell said.

"Unfortunately the beautiful game is not looking so beautiful and anti-social behaviour is becoming more prevalent season after season. Abuse of players and referees are issues that must be stamped out of our game."

Wai-BOP have introduced a points system for each participating league. A monthly league table will be uploaded onto the Wai-BOP website so that teams can track their progress.

The points systems will see teams accrue one point per yellow card, three points for a red card, five for a judicial hearing and 10 points for referee abuse. The team with the lowest points at the end of the season in each participating league will win back their Wai-BOP affiliation fees of $512.

Participating leagues are the Federation's men's 1 and 2, Waikato men's A, Bay of Plenty men's 1, Waikato women's A and Bay of Plenty women's 1.

Elders lack spark

Basketball: An under-strength Elders of Israel have warmed up for basketball's Summer League semi-finals with a 68-59 loss to Bay Bombers at the QEII.

Bombers finally started to put passes together and looked good against the Elders' two-three zone to lead 40-25, with the Bombers increasing their lead in the second- half, only to have it cut back dramatically, although they held on to win.

Round six started in predictable fashion with A & J Demolition using their full-court press against Tauranga City under-19s. At times the under-19s looked to be able to break the press but turnovers cost them.

A & J never looked likely to lose, leading 43-24 at half-time and going on to a win 78-49.


Melville's Wai win

Football: Waikato's Melville United are the inaugural winners of the Wai-Bay of Plenty Football Pre-Season Cup after defeating Rotorua United 2-1 in the final at Mt Maunganui's Links Ave.

The Pre-Season Cup was launched this season to give the top teams at clubs a structured pre-season campaign.

"With WaiBOP clubs playing in Northern League and Federation competitions, our best teams do not get the opportunity to play each other. The concept behind the Pre-Season Cup is to enable the likes of Hamilton Wanderers (Northern premier) and Taupo (Federation) to compete against each other,'' Wai-BOP Chief executive Cam Mitchell said.

The competition didn't attract any Northern League teams.

Finals day at Links Ave saw six of the eight teams involved in the four-week competition playing at the venue.

In the final, Peter Kennedy opened the scoring for Melville with a cracking 30-metre strike.

Rotorua responded shortly after  half-time  courtesy of a Lawrie Scott goal, before Joshua Noojen scored the winner for Melville midway through the half.

In the 3rd/4th playoff, Ngongotaha comfortably overcame the challenge of hosts Tauranga City for a 3-0 win.Dayne Willemsen, Orlando Gotz and Luke Barker were all on target for Ngongotaha.

Whakatane Town defeated Te Awamutu 5-2 to secure fifth spot.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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