SLH Contracting Plains Rangers opened their BOP division two campaign in style on Saturday at Awakeri. Rangers looked sharp from the outset and only three minutes in, player-coach Christian Wetting powered in an accurate shot from just outside the box to open the scoring. After ten minutes, left winger Jordan Ogilvy took the ball to the line and pulled it across for Wetting to grab his second. Five minutes later Rangers stamped their authority on the match when striker Andy Willis laid on a good ball for Sione Lotu to score on debut. After half an hour Lotu became the provider, a ball in from the right being turned in by Ogilvy. Just on half time Wetting played the ball through to Jaiden Ibbetson, who controlled it and slotted it home. Rangers led comfortably 5 - 0 at the break.
Wetting insisted at half time that Rangers continue to play good football, rather than let standards slip. Shortly afterwards substitute Richie Nillesen, returning from a long injury layoff and having transferred back from Whakatane Town, provided fellow substitute Petir Gray with a chance, which he took. However, Rangers then had quite a spell without creating much and were awakened by an Otumoetai break away which was finished well. Late in the game Rangers got things going again. Ogilvy put in a nice cross which Willis volleyed home and then came the icing on the cake. Jamaal James sent over a nice cross and Lotu astounded the spectators and players alike with a bicycle kick to score a glorious goal. The final score: Plains Rangers 8, Otumoetai 1.
It was a good team effort, with James Krause named player of the day for his high work rate in the midfield.
The game was played in good spirit by both teams and was well controlled by veteran referee Norm Howe.
This Saturday Rangers men will be missing a couple of players but will want to build on their good work when they host Rotorua, who beat them narrowly in a pre-season game. Kick off at Awakeri will be at 2pm.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women travelled to play Te Puke in their season opener. The home team had been strengthened during the off season, with one new-comer responsible for half of her team's 10 goals. Rangers had some good attacks of their own, with young striker Cassidy Spillman scoring twice. Rangers also hit the woodwork and the well-performed Janie Paling had a near miss in an entertaining game. The final score was Te Puke 10 Rangers 2. Cassidy Spillman was named player of the day. This Sunday Rangers are at home to Taupo, kick off at 12.30pm.