A new Rankin Cup hockey champion will be crowned after Wellington College defeated Westlake Boys' High School in the Round of 16 at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington this afternoon.
Wellington College made a blistering start and withstood a fierce fight back as they won through to the quarter finals 4-3.
Wellington's hero was Jaylin Dayal who scored three goals, including two in the first ten minutes. Dayal walked through the heart of Westlake's defense and walloped home a ferocious drive to open his account. He then supported a 30-meter break by Hunter Sent to double Wellington's advantage. Hanasaka Ranaweera and Hiren Mani narrowly missed chances to further extend Wellington's margin.
Gradually Westlake shutdown Wellington's key attackers and started to win some possession. Netesh Sukha and Joshua Arnott were both denied by Wellington goal keeper Sam Dearsly, but moments before halftime Stefan Wing scored to make it 2-1 at the break.
In a repeat of the first-half, Wellington raced out of the blocks and surged ahead 4-1. Dayal and Sent combined initially with the latter scoring and then Dayal completed his hat-trick with a well taken strike.
Craig Pollock pulled one back for Westlake with a shot that was briefly suspended in the air and caught everybody off guard when it popped in, 4-2. Westlake Captain Keegan Russell then bounced the ball in, lowering a lifted a pass to make it 4-3.
Westlake pulled their goalkeeper desperately seeking an equalizer. Aaron Gillespie had a shot swatted clear by Dearsly. Wellington's discipline wilted and two players were green-carded. Westlake pressed hard, but an inspiring length of the pitch run by Paul Horrocks locking the ball up in the corner at last suppressed Westlake.
Wairarapa Stun Grammar
Wairarapa College rallied from a 3-1 deficit to stun Auckland Grammar School 4-3 in extra time.
Both teams were locked up 3-3 at fulltime so each side was reduced to nine players and the goal keeper removed, accept for penalty corners.
Auckland Grammar's Jonny Bates hit the post and Joshua Stephens watched a shot fizz across the face of goal as Grammar went closeted to initially breaking the deadlock.
After five minutes both teams were cut further to seven players. Wairarapa won a penalty corner and captain Gus Wakeling drove forcefully in the direction of goal. The ball cruelly rebounded of the keepers front pads and dribbled into the net to give Wairarapa the golden goal required to win.
Earlier Grammar controlled the match and leapt ahead 3-1. Callum Coutts opened the scoring tapping in a pass by Devan Narsai. Marshall Wells manoeuvred through traffic to double Grammar's advantage.
Wairarapa striker Michael Brewster is an impressive player and he pulled one back with a reverse-stick shot, but Stephens tapped in to make it 3-1.
Brewster scored from Wairarapa's first penalty corner to make it 3-2 and with about eight minutes left Ethan Butcher scrambled in a deflected shot to tie the scores.
Jonny Bates was very impressive for Grammar as was Alex Hare for Wairarapa. Wairarapa defended stoutly and had the favourable bounce at the end. A cracking match between two really good sides.
The quarter final line-up will be resolved by tonight. Click here for results & draws.
The balance of power in Christchurch hockey has shifted from St. Andrew’s College to Christ’s College. The 2015 Rankin Cup runners-up had won the Canterbury title for three years in a row, trouncing Christ’s 7-1 in last year’s SPL decider.
During the SPL regular season Christ’s accounted for St. Andrew’s twice, 5-2 and 2-1. Captain Rowan Taylor explains the importance of early success against St. Andrew’s.
“We played our best game of the season when we beat St. Andrew’s for the first time. It was the first time any of us had been involved in a win against them. It was a really important for building confidence and belief,” he says.
The two sides clashed again in the semi-finals last Wednesday night and Christ’s prevailed 4-0 with defender Taylor scoring two goals. On Friday, Christ’s had to back up for the final against Burnside High School. Goals by Henry Phelps, James Donaldson and Sam Blake helped achieve a resounding 3-1 win.
“We started a bit shakily, but two goals in the space of a minute helped us relax and play the way we wanted to play. Burnside was the Cinderella story of the competition. They finished fourth in the round-robin and upset Christchurch in the semi-finals. We were a bit relieved to avoid Christchurch to be honest,” Taylor says.
Christ’s won 13 out of 14 matches during the SPL season, but the game lost to Christchurch Boys’ was vital Taylor believes.
“We took a while to gel and were beaten in our first game against Christchurch Boys’ 3-2. They were up 3-0 and were in control for much of the match. We finally started to play some good hockey in the last 15 minutes and scored two goals. That built some confidence and momentum,” he says.
Christ’s beat Christchurch Boys’ 2-1 in their next meeting so they will head to the Rankin Cup in Wellington at the end of this month as genuinely the best team from the Garden City. Providing further reason for optimism is the pre-season win over national powerhouses Hamilton BHS and St. Paul’s Collegiate.
“It’s been a real privilege being the captain of this team. There are so many good players and that makes my job easier. There are a lot of good teams in the North Island so I am not sure how we will go at Rankin, but if we play to our potential we should do well,” Taylor concludes.
It should be noted that Taylor celebrated his 100th game for the First XI when they beat Shirley BHS 11-1 and is already familiar with national championship success. In April he was a member of the Christ’s rowing crews that won the Springbok Shield (fours) and Maadi Cup (Eights).
Christchurch Boys’ High School won the boys’ playoff for third and fourth, beating St Andrew’s College 2-1. Goals came from Angus Keast and Logan McConnel. Matt Cummins scored the only goal for STAC from the stroke spot.
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