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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