Midlands hockey teams have had important hit outs in Tauranga as the national championships loom.
The men's and women's teams will return to the Tauranga Hockey Centre in less than two weeks for their respective Ford NHL Tournament, but on Sunday played Tauranga-Bay of Plenty teams. The latter will play in the association national championships the same week in Tauranga.
The Midlands men's team were 8-0 winners on Sunday but coach Mark Borgers was not concerned with the result.
"The purpose was not just winning, it is also connecting with the regions and it was important to play there," Borgers says.
"We just need to tick boxes before the tournament. We pulled a man as if we were down for 10 minutes, so we needed to deal with that. You do some things right you do some wrong and then you discuss that.
"You like to see things from training and they carried that out really well."
Borgers says his side plays an entertaining style but has strong beliefs on mastering the simple parts of the game.
"If you don't master the basics it becomes very difficult. There is an issue in New Zealand with that, a lot of players do not master the basics well enough. If the pressure and the pace of the game increases you start to make mistakes on your trapping and passing.
"As a team we really connect well together and we also want to be efficient. If we can play that game and every player can show his qualities, we have been successful.
"For me it is about delivering a better team after the tournament than there was before. Success is not only winning the tournament. We don't have any Black Sticks playing for us, to say winning is the only thing is naive. We should be realistic but still have challenging goals. Being ranked in the top four is more realistic."
The Midlands women's team had an 8-1 victory and Nicky Smith stood in for regular coach Reiner Vellinga on Sunday.
"It was another step forward in preparation for the tournament," Smith says.
"With our Black Sticks away, it was beneficial for the players that were there. It was good to practise some of the structures around the gameplay and work together. The positive is it gives those players the opportunity to put their hand up and say 'I am going well too'.
"They need to gel, there are a few disruptions around player availability and they have not played too much together. They are playing fast attacking hockey and it is a high-pressure, high-energy game. They want to take the ball of the opposition high up the field to create opportunities."
The national tournaments begin in Tauranga on September 14.