The local derby between Mt Maunganui and Otumoetai in the Midlands Intercity women's hockey clash on Saturday was a closer encounter than some spectators were expecting.
Competition leaders Mount were anticipated to be untroubled by middle-of-the-table Otumoetai, but no one told the Otumoetai players. The Mount women opened up a 2-0 lead by the halftime interval, both from sharp-shooter Katie Horan.
As the match progressed, Otumoetai staged an increasing number of attacks on their opponents' circle, and these efforts were finally rewarded when captain Nikki Furmage scored with a skilful backhand chop two minutes from time.
Otumoetai's attackers threw all their energy into striving for the equaliser but were unable to again beat the Mount goalie Isla Johnston, who had pulled off a couple of vital saves earlier in the final quarter. Otumoetai's keeper Carol Orton also had a good game.
Mt Maunganui's 2-1 victory means they retain the lead at the top of the table, two points clear of Fraser Tech and Waikato University, who both recorded wins on Saturday.
In the men's Intercity division, Tauranga Old Boys found Te Awamutu too strong and well-organised on attack. Within the first 10 minutes the visitors had opened a 3-0 lead, with lively Ben Coxhead scoring two of the field goals.
Abir Mukherjee got one back for Old Boys, but after the interval it was all Te Awamutu. Their attackers crowded the circle in penalty corners and pounced on the rebounds, sometimes taking three shots at goal in quick succession before beating Old Boys' goaltender Felix Creighton-Syme. The final scoreline of 7-1 was a fair indication of Te Awamutu's dominance.
In Hamilton, Collegians fought a close 3-2 battle with University, to climb above University on the Pool A points table. Hamilton Old Boys defeated Kohekohe 3-0 to retain top spot on the ladder in Pool B, with one more week of games before the men divide into the top eight for the championship round and the bottom six teams to contest the plate.
Mt Maunganui 2 Otumoetai 1, HT 2-0; University 6 Te Awamutu 1; Fraser Tech 2 Marist 1; Rotorua Aces 2 Hamilton Old Girls 1; Suburbs 4 Waiau Pa 1.
Men Pool A:
Te Awamutu 7 Tauranga Old Boys 1, HT 3-1; Collegians 3 University 2; BOP Indians 5 Waiau Pa 2; Aces the bye.
Men Pool B:
Hamilton Old Boys 3 Kohekohe 0; Fraser Tech 3 Suburbs 0; Pukekohe Indians 4 Onewhero 0; Otumoetai the bye.