Hockey: North Harbour's fate out of their hands in Whangarei

By David Leggat

Northland versus Central in the National Hockey League. Photo / John Stone
Northland versus Central in the National Hockey League. Photo / John Stone

North Harbour have an anxious wait to see if they have qualified for both the men's and women's National Hockey League finals in Whangarei.

Both teams have completed their six round robin games and have the bye on Friday when the last round of games are played.

In the men's Challenge Shield, Canterbury are sure of their place in the final on the back of their 3-1 win over defending champions Auckland today. Willie Davidson, Richard Bain and Mitch Hayde got theire goals, Auckland's only response a Jonny Bilkey goal a minute from time.

North Harbour are level with Canterbury on 16 points after losing their last pool game 2-1 to Capital, and have a one-goal worse goal difference than Canterbury. Midlands have 12 points but play Canterbury on Friday.

So North Harbour can only sit, watch and hope Midlands are beaten.

In the women's K Cup, Canterbury are nearly sure of making the final, having beaten Auckland 2-1 today, with goals from Anne Mackechnie and Emily Maguire to one from former international Sam Harrison.

But there's a complex tiebreaker system in place this season.

Canterbury and North Harbour - Ella Hyatt-Brown getting Harbour's winner against Capital today -- are both on 17 points, with Midlands in pursuit on 14.

Midlands gave hosts Northland an 8-0 drubbing tonight - their men gave Northland an 8-1 beating as well -- and face Canterbury in a tough finale to the round robin on Friday.

Win that and they can face Canterbury again in Saturday's final and tip North Harbour out. However there's a chance Canterbury could still miss the final on a countback according to Hockey New Zealand officials.

Amy Robinson and Alia Jacques got three goals apiece for Midlands tonight while Aidan Sarikaya and Leo Mitai Wells got a brace each for the Midlands men.

The league has been reduced to seven teams in each competition this season, with Southern dropping out.

The format has also changed, in that the top two teams after the round robin progress straight to the final, rather then the old four-team playoff system.

The standard has been lower at this year's tournament too with only a handful of Black Sticks internationals opting to play, after having been given the option to sit out the NHL in the wake of the Olympic Games campaigns.

Results: NATIONAL LEAGUE (Whangerei)

Men:
Round five: Capital 2 North Harbour 1, Canterbury 3 Auckland 1, Midlands 8 Northland 1.
Standings: Canterbury 16, North Harbour 16, Midlands 12, Central 11, Capital 9, Auckland 5 Northland 0. (North Harbour played six, all others played five).

Women:
Canterbury 2 Auckland 1, Midlands 8 Northland 0, North Harbour 1 Capital 0.
Standings: Canterbury 17, North Harbour 17, Midlands 14, Auckland 11, Northland 4, Central 3, Capital 2 (North Harbour played six, all others played five).

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 Sep 2016 08:42:52 Processing Time: 576ms