North Otago has ‘very good chance’

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Tainui player-coach Jared Ovens hopes a strong representative performance at the Ian Smith Trophy will ignite the club’s season in the South Canterbury premier competition.

Club hockey takes a break this weekend for the annual Ian Smith Trophy tournament featuring regional teams from Mid Canterbury south.

North Otago should be highly competitive, and for the Tainui players, it is an opportunity to freshen up after a slow start to the club campaign. Tainui slumped to its fourth loss in five weeks on Saturday, beaten 5-2 by Northern Hearts.

Tom Wouters got Tainui on the board in the first half, after which Hearts led 3-1, and while Jim Keown scored for Tainui in the second half, the Timaru side was able to push on for victory.

“The score doesn’t really reflect the game. It was a very even contest,” Ovens said.

“We played a lot better than we have been playing. Our passing was good, and we created a number of opportunities but couldn’t put them away.”

Tainui had rarely been able to field its top playing XI, Ovens said, and he hoped the club’s fortunes would take a rise after this weekend.

North Otago won the Ian Smith Trophy in 2015 and hopes are high the province will give it a good crack in Timaru this weekend.

“I think this is, on paper, one of the strongest teams I’ve been in,” Ovens said. “We’ve got a very, very good chance.”

North Otago opens the tournament with games against Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury tomorrow.

Tainui B was beaten 3-1 by Cambridge on Sunday. Scott McClea scored the lone goal for Tainui B.

Three games in the North Otago senior mixed competition ended in capped 10-0 blowouts at the weekend.

St Kevin’s College First XI (v Waitaki Girls’ High School Development), Waitaki Boys’ High School (v Pirata Black) and Pirata Blue (v WGHS Development) all won by the maximum score allowed.

In the only competitive game of the round, WGHS First XI beat Shamrocks StK 5-2. Anna Scott, Ruby Smaill, TJ Arlidge, Connie Searle and Katelyn Naylor scored for Waitaki Girls’, and Thomas Ballantyne and Logan Lory scored for Shamrocks StK.