Wingham into top division

Mai Stone from Wingham in last season's 3-0 win over Sharks in the division two grand final. Wingham will move into division one this year.
Mai Stone from Wingham in last season's 3-0 win over Sharks in the division two grand final. Wingham will move into division one this year.

WINGHAM has stepped up from division two to become the fourth side in this season's Manning division one women's hockey competition.

Only three sides looked set to play in the top division women's competition after a Hastings-based team withdrew.

"But Wingham has filled the breach for us to give us four sides,'' Manning Hockey president Debbie Monck said.

"They're a good little team. Wingham won division two last year and hopefully they'll enjoy playing division one.''

They'll join premiers Town, Chatham and Sharks in division one. Four sides will also play division two with seven in division three.

Ms Monck said all is now ready to start the shortened season.

"It's been a hard slog,'' she admitted.

"We lost a couple of teams and that forced late changes to the draws in the seniors. The juniors have been pretty right to go from when we announced we were going to start.

"But now the draws for all grades have been done and we're ready for 10 weeks of hockey.''

Only three men's division one teams will be involved after Port Thunder pulled out. To help counter this it has been decided to play a game on Thursday night as well as Saturday afternoon to ensure there's a continuity of hockey. Thursday encounters start next week. Premiers Chatham, Tigers and Sharks will chase the premiership.

The men's division two and three competitions have merged. Eight sides will be involved and they will split for the semi-finals in September.

"Our numbers for the juniors are good, with four in the 15s and four in the 13s while we also have an under 11s,'' Ms Monck said.

"I know a lot of players - in juniors and seniors - just want to have a game. It'll only be a short season but hopefully it'll be an enjoyable one.''

The competition-proper will run until September 19 when semi-finals will be played. Grand finals will be decided on Saturday September 26, just one week later than was originally planned.