Mount Maunganui are set to make their women's Intercity Trophy hockey final debut, facing off against their Bay of Plenty rivals, Rotorua Aces.
The two sides storm into the final after convincing wins over Hamilton sides last week. Mount Maunganui beat previously unbeaten Hamilton Old Girls' 5-2 while Aces thumped University 7-0.
A lot of Mount Maunganui's success this season has been attributed to a strong core of players, as well as their tight network - and it's something coach Narayan Singh hopes will get them through this weekend.
"We have maintained a fairly consistent performance, even when we were losing. We had a good core group and if we missed a couple we were not struggling. We did not have to bring in players too often," Singh says.
"They have created a really good culture in the last couple of years. It is a very inclusive culture and there are no stars. The higher skilled players teach the others really well. They are willing to offer up their knowledge and motivate their teammates."
The final will be played at Rotorua's Smallbone Park tomorrow and even though Aces took the 2-1 win the last time the sides faced each other, Mount coach Narayan Singh says they are ready.
"They [Aces] are a different kettle of fish altogether. They play quite a different style to how we play. Last time we played them, we didn't back ourselves and were put under pressure. We have learned since then. They dictated how we were going to play. On Saturday we are going to make sure we show real intent to stick to our game plan."
"The message is basically going to be that we have worked hard to create this opportunity and we have to go out and enjoy the way we play. We all work hard and we just have to make sure we settle the nerves," Singh says.
The Aces have been solid throughout the season, with just two losses, and in the five games since the competition split in the first weekend of July, they have scored 22 goals and conceded just two.
Aces player and former Black Stick Lizzy Horlock says they have implemented a consistent message this season and their defence has been a focus.
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"It is about making sure we do the work off the ball, so when we have it the goals comes easy. We try and keep it really simple and it is the hard work in between that gets us the goals. For our team, it is making sure every person in our team positively impacts on the game.," Horlock says.
"We doing a better job defending further up the field."
Horlock says a home final and the players' knowledge of each other are assets that will help them this weekend.
"The output for these girls to travel is huge, so being at home is great. With the final, there has been no change to the approach. This group know each other well and they are well rehearsed in knowing what works for them."
Waikato Hockey Association chief executive Declan Wyndham-Smith is on the committee that runs the intercity competitions and says the women's final boasts plenty of talent.
"At the top end of the competition it has been much more even this year. The top five women's teams were really even. The Mount are on the charge but the Aces take momentum into the final and they have a whole lot of talent and they play with an attacking flair. They will be very hard to beat at home."
The men's final will also be played at Rotorua as Hamilton teams Collegians and University, which Wyndham-Smith says have about eight players originally from the Bay, battle for the Intercity Cup.
Intercity hockey finals:
When: Saturday, August 10.
Where: Smallbone Park, Rotorua.
Women's Intercity Trophy: Aces v Mount Maunganui - 2pm.
Men's Intercity Cup: Collegians v University - 3.30pm.