The Canterbury U21 girls have probably their most important match of the tournament this afternoon in their top of the table clash with North Harbour. Canterbury sits at the top of the table with a maximum of 16 points from their 4 games, while North Harbour dropped a game against rivals Auckland earlier in the week which puts them into second spot. A win today for the red and blacks would secure the U21 National title for the second year in a row. The game at 2pm should be a cracker!
The girls are playing some great consistent, controlled hockey and another comfortable win against Central on Wednesday saw them head into a day off yesterday full of confidence. Despite dominating right from the start they were unable to find the back of the Central net until just after the start of the second quarter when Margot Willis converted a PC variation in the 17th minute to put their noses in front. The score remained unchanged for the rest of the half before Canterbury took control of the match in the 3rd quarter adding a couple of quick goals in the 42nd and 43rd minute, field goals to Hayley Cox and Jessie Anderson, to put the game beyond Centrals reach going into the last quarter. A controlled final spell saw the Cubs close out the match with a 3-0 win.
The U21 lads faced off against North Harbour on Wednesday in their third game of the tournament and found themselves on the back foot going into halftime after conceding a PC goal in the final minute of the half. A fight back in the third quarter saw the boys find the back of the net three times within the space of four minutes, a field goal to Moss Jackson kicking it off in the 36th minute followed very quickly by a PC goal to Tom Nicolls, his first of the tournament. Simon Yorston finished a great spell of attacking hockey with his second goal of the tournament. Unfortunately North Harbour got one back scoring their second PC goal of the game. A frantic final quarter ensued as the Harbour boys threw everything at the Canterbury defence and were rewarded with an equaliser with 3 minutes left on the clock. Canterbury dominated the shootout, Oliver Hawker, Simon Yorston, Jayden Rakowitz and Llewey Heale all succeeding and ensuring a draw/win result.
With two draw/wins already in the tournament the Canterbury boys really needed a win in their fourth game yesterday to give themselves any chance of grabbing the title this year. Unfortunately for the Red and Blacks it was the Southern lads who came out firing and grabbed the advantage right from the start with goals in the 10th and 13th minute to put our boys on the back foot immediately. Canterbury clawed their way back into the match in the second quarter, with captain Gus Wakeling stepping up and grabbing his first goal of the tournament. In a sessawing match it again Southern who capitalise, clinching the match with a well taken penalty corner 3 minutes into the final quarter. The 1-3 loss sees Canterbury slip to 5th on the table so they now need to win both their remaining games and hope the other teams above them drop points if they to steal a top three placing.