Manukau Courier : March 7th 2014
www.manukaucourier.co.nz SPORT MANUKAU COURIER, MARCH 7, 2014 11 Coming through: Otahuhu’s Samantha Parks sends down a pitch. Big hit: Otahuhu’s Samantha Harris hits out against the Western Magpies. Photos: PHOTOTEK Lack of focus costs Otahuhu By ALAN APTED Otahuhu have had the worst preparation possible for the national women’s softball championship starting at Rosedale Park in Albany next Thursday. They’ll go into the four-day tournament without their Auckland title and with their confidence shot. They surrendered their crown in the playoffs against Western Magpies and Waitakere Bears at Meadowlands Reserve in Howick last Saturday. They lost both games 2-1. It’s a result that has left coach Wayne Roper bitterly disappointed. ‘‘It was not a good Saturday night, I assure you. I told the players that I hoped losing the title hurt because that Go to manukaucourier.co.nz to see more photos of Otahuhu’s game against the Western Magpies. way they might work out how to fix it,’’ Roper says. ‘‘It was very disappointing. ‘‘We had the better stat- istics in both games. ‘‘But we let outselves down with errors at crucial times. There were two against the Magpies and one against the Bears. ‘‘We have only ourselves to blame,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re losing focus at key periods in the match. We’ve got to learn to stay focused throughout each innings.’’ He says the team lacks ruthlessness, one of the hallmarks of champion sides. But pitcher Samantha Parks and catcher Stephanie Trutanic showed how valuable they’ll be at nationals. Roper says the pair were fantastic last weekend and he held out hope that others in the team would play with the same fire and determination. The lack of a backup pitcher for Parks is a concern for Otahuhu heading into the nationals. Otahuhu play eight round robin matches in the lead-up to the playoffs. Among the eight is West- ern Magpies, the team that face Waitakere Bears in the Auckland final on Saturday, and one Otahuhu haven’t been beaten this season. Reaching: Otahuhu’s Samantha Parks attempts a bunt. United hold on to their unbeaten home record By SIMON KAY It might have been a makeshift lineup but Auckland United managed to hold on to their unbeaten home record in football’s ASB Youth League. They beat Waikato-Bay of Plenty 2-1 at Mangere’s Centre Park last Sunday. The win lifts United to sec- ond on the league’s Northern Conference table with one game left, against Wanderers at North Harbour Stadium tomorrow at 1pm. United are one point ahead of Waitakere and two ahead of Waikato-Bay of Plenty, who play each other this weekend, meaning they will finish their inaugural season either second or third in the six-team conference. Unbeaten Northern leaders Auckland City play Southern Conference winners Nelson Marlborough in the final next weekend. With several players unavailable last Sunday, Auckland United coach Mauricio Rojas was forced to field an unfamiliar starting 11. Striker Ian Sellar did a good job filling in at right back. United took the lead late in a first half of few chances, with midfielder Joseph Turagabeci scoring from a goalmouth scramble after Waikato-Bay of Plenty failed to clear a corner. But the lead lasted barely a minute after the hosts paid the price for giving away the ball in midfield. Both sides struggled to cregood ate scoring opportunities during an even second half until United gained control in the last 20 minutes. Altaaf Sahib once again scored the crucial goal. He struck in the 80th min- ute, curling a superb left foot, free kick into the top left corner of the goal. ‘‘It was a pretty even game and the only way either team could win was with a set piece or a mistake,’’ Rojas says. ‘‘We were lucky enough to have Altaaf in our team – he had a top performance and scored a great free kick. ‘‘I’m really happy with the result. It’s a massive achievement in our first season to make the top three and second place is in our hands. ‘‘The boys have been com- Crucial strike: Altaaf Sahib, right, scored the winning goal against Waikato-Bay of Plenty. It was a replica of the goal he’d netted against Auckland City the previous week. ‘‘They had their strongest squad available on Sunday and were set up defensively really well. ‘‘Our aim was to not con- cede and try to break on the counter because we have a few quick players who can do that. mitted through the whole season, they’ve worked hard and really deserve it.’’ Scoreboard: Auckland United 2 (Joseph Turagabeci, Altaaf Sahib) Waikato-Bay of Plenty 1. Points: Auckland City 23, Auckland United 15, Waitakere 14, Waikato-Bay of Plenty 13, Wanderers 6, Hawke’s Bay 3. Draw: Auckland United v Wanderers, North Harbour Stadium. Date: March 8. Start: 1pm.
March 6th 2014
March 11th 2014