Waikato Unicol, Old Blues and Taupo all tasted defeat on a Saturday afternoon that could potentially have blown the 2017 Loaded WaiBOP Premiership title race wide open.
In the biggest upset of the day, Daniel Miller’s second half goal helped Otumoetai to a 1-0 win at Waikato Unicol, consigning the students to a second consecutive loss and third of the season. Unicol appear to be suffering the sort of problems – injuries and absences – other teams have already had to deal with this season and the question now is whether they can regroup and get their campaign back on track. They’ll need to do so quickly as they visit inform Cambridge this coming Saturday.
For Otumoetai, this victory put the icing on a run of five consecutive wins that has pulled them to the fringes of the title fight. Their win also meant they claimed the Federation Challenge Shield, a trophy that comes up for grabs during every home game for the holders. Until recently, Unicol looked like maintaining an iron grip on the shield, such was the quality of their home form.
Unicol held their three point gap at the top of the Premiership table, however, after second-placed Old Blues slipped up in losing a 5-3 thriller at the Matamata Domain. Two attack minded teams got the ball rolling early as Chris Walker opened the scoring for Comag Matamata Swifts, before Franz Marko and Bob Barnes had the visitors in front inside quarter of an hour.
Bjorn Vossen’s hit from distance drew the Swifts level before the break, then they came out firing after half time. Brad West, Vossen again and Glen Carmichael all scored to give Matamata a match winning margin just after the hour mark. Mike Barton drew the visitors closer inside the final fifteen minutes, but Matamata held on grimly for the win.
Taupo also tasted defeat in the Waikato, falling 2-0 at Edmonds Judd Te Awamutu. Joel Roil put his team ahead in the first half before Haydn Roil doubled Te Awamutu’s lead after the break to help them to their sixth win of the season and a comfortable mid-table spot just after the halfway point. Taupo has now lost three of their last four, with their only victory in that time coming against last-placed Papamoa, while Te Awamutu snapped a run of four consecutive defeats.
Cambridge eased themselves into the top three with a comfortable 2-0 win at a rapidly sinking Rotorua United. Tom Wouterson and Callum MacLeod scored to ensure their sixth win on the trot and set themselves up nicely for this Saturday’s visit by Waikato Unicol, which is a match that could alter the complexion of the Premiership season.
Rotorua must now be looking over their shoulders as they sunk into the bottom three following Melville United’s 3-3 draw at home to West Hamilton United. The point allowed Melville to inch ahead of Rotorua on goal difference, while Tauranga Boys’ College’s 10-2 win over SGS Papamoa moved them to within a win of United with a game in hand.
Dylan Blair notched a hat trick for Melville, while Harry Christensen-Rose’s double, and a goal from Matt Milner ensured West Hamilton took a point home to Weka Street.
Alex Elloit and Riley Bidois both notched hat tricks for Boys’ College in their rout of Papamoa.
The WaiBOP Championship’s top two sides, Unicol Reserves and Cambridge Reserves both won to set-up a tantalising encounter in the early game at John Kerkhof Park this Saturday. Unicol inched home 1-0 over Otumoetai’s Reserves thanks to Kirk Newman’s second half goal, while Cambridge convincingly dealt with Rotorua United’s Reserves in the early game at Neil Hunt Park. James Cakebread’s hat trick helped them to a 6-1 win.
Tokoroa moved into the top three after a 3-0 win over Te Puke United at Strathmore Park, with their three points lifting them above their opponents on the table. Their fifth win in a row still leave Tokoroa six points behind Cambridge so they must ensure the winning run continues if they want to secure a top two spot and promotion that comes with it.
In the other games played, Taupo Reserves came from a goal down at half time to win 4-1 at Edmonds Judd Te Awamutu Reserves, while Old Blues Reserves won 5-1 at home over Richardson Racing Stables Matamata Reserves.
There were no games scheduled in this week’s WaiBOP Women’s Premier League.
Full match information here.