Hat tricks were scored by both the men's and women's teams in a fine weekend for Plains Rangers.
Plains Rangers men travelled to play the Miller Cup holders Otumoetai Legends, as BOP football took a break from the league for the first round of cup action on Saturday.
The game started out fairly evenly, with Rangers putting together some nice passing moves. The home team got a lucky break though after 13 minutes, when a challenge in the penalty area led a rather soft penalty being awarded. It was duly dispatched to give Otumoetai the lead. The even battle continued and on the half hour Rangers got back on level terms. Keeper Christian Wetting cleared the ball to Sione Lotu, who chested it down, turned and chipped the keeper from 25 metres. Both team headed into the break knowing they had a decent chance to take the win. However, after just 40 seconds of the second half, Lotu had again lobbed the ball over the keeper, this time from 20 metres out. This deflated the home team and when Rangers were awarded a penalty of their own ten minutes later, it looked like game over. However, striker Andy Willis had the bad luck to hit the crossbar with his strike. Otumoetai began to be more cohesive in their attacks, but Rangers held them out and then looked to have sealed the game when Lotu, yet again, put the ball over the top of the hapless Otumoetai keeper, this time from inside the box. Otumoetai continued to press and did manage a late consolation goal, but Rangers closed out the win 3 – 2.
Rangers will continue into the second round of the Cup in early July, while the holder Otumoetai will contest the Bowl. Sione Lotu was duly named player of the day for his impressive hat trick. Others to impress were brothers Husnul and Petir Gray in centre midfield, keeper Christian Wetting and Shane Baillie who did well in an unaccustomed defensive position.
This Saturday Rangers men are back in league action, away to Te Puke.
On Sunday, Plains Rangers women were at home to Ngongotaha,
and came away with a 4 - 0 win. Rangers put together their play very well, with excellent passing, movement and competing for the ball in good spirit. Good build up play created the chances for inform striker Kiahli Ibbetson to score all four goals! Jenny McIntyre was named player of the day for keeping the defence tight, shutting down opposition attacks. Laura Tumarae's play in the midfield was also a highlight, until she went off injured and Samantha Burr showed good sportsmanship by playing for Ngongotaha when they were short of players.
Next Sunday Rangers women are home again, this time to Tauranga Blue Rovers.