At times it was tense and a little too close for comfort, but Bayleys Otumoetai were deserved winners against the Waiau Pa Pirates at the Tauranga Hockey Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The 3-1 score was probably a fair reflection of the sides, although the game took a strange route to get to that final score.
Otumoetai were all over their northern rivals early and opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a fine goal to Andrew Bigham after some wonderful stick work from Hayden Bruin.
He beat a couple of men with deft touches before driving the ball on for the stick of a sniping Bigham, and the home side looked every bit worth their one-goal advantage.
The lead was doubled after 23 minutes, but that strike was nowhere near as pure. Opinion was divided between umpires and players alike as to whether a player had touched a ball driven through the Pirates' circle and into the back of the net.
The initial decision to rule out the goal was subsequently overturned, meaning Otumoetai - and indeed Bigham - went into the break with a two-goal advantage.
But it was a different game in the second half. A goal for the visitors to Grant Harris after just five minutes meant the game was definitely still on. It was much tighter from there, as both sides settled into a holding pattern.
The home side missed a number of chances to put the game away, and had to endure a penalty corner and a couple of curly moments before the industrious Jonathan Simmonds put the game away with less than 10 minutes to play.
He beat two men at the top of the circle and then managed to fire an awkward, bouncing shot that proved too good for the visiting goalkeeper.
Otumoetai will be happy with the result, but Simmonds believes the side should be finishing a far greater number of the excellent opportunities that they are producing.
Bayleys Otumoetai 3 (Andrew Bigham 2, Jonathan Simmonds goals) Waiau Pa Pirates 1 (Grant Harris).