Hamish Watson scores hat-trick to fire Team Wellington into national football league final

Hamish Watson scored a hat-trick as Team Wellington won a rambunctious semifinal against Hamilton Wanderers 4-1 to advance to next Sundays national mens football league final.
The veteran striker opened the scoring on Saturday with a direct free kick in the 12th minute then was on home to tap in a dinked cross from Jack-Henry Sinclair and double his sides lead in the 36th.

Sam Mason-Smith then put the hosts three goals to the good six minutes into the second spell, before Tommy Semmy pulled one back for the visitors on the hour mark at David Farrington Park.

ANDREW TURNER/PHOTOSPORT
Hamish Watson celebrates after opening the scoring for Team Wellington in their national league semifinal against Hamilton Wanderers.

As Wanderers pressed for the two other goals they needed, they began to leave big gaps in behind and the hosts exploited those to score their fourth, with Ollie Whyte and Andy Bevin combining down the left before Bevin found Watson free in the middle of the box 20 minutes from time.


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Four players from Hamilton Wanderers were shown yellow cards in the first half, as were two from Team Wellington (with another two joining them in the second), and there was plenty of niggle throughout as the two sides sought a place in the last ISPS Handa Mens Premiership final.


Referee Calvin Berg brought both teams together for a talking to midway through the first half after a late tackle from Wanderers midfielder Josh Signey sparked frustration, and wound up showing their defender Lewis Reid a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity late on, while Brock Messenger was lucky to avoid a second yellow.

Watsons first goal came after Wanderers gave away a free kick on the edge of their area, which he curled past goalkeeper Matt Oliver into the far corner of the net.

His second came after he released Sinclair down the right, putting the wingback in a position where he was able to gather the ball and deliver it back to his provider on a plate at the back post.


Bevin was responsible for setting up Mason-Smith's goal, as his shot deflected off a Wanderers defender and landed at the strikers feet in the middle of the box.

Wanderers had several free kicks in promising positions in the first half, with Joe Harris sending one over the top of Team Wellingtons goal and forcing Jones to make a save and Sinclair to make a goal-line clearance from another.

Derek Tieku had an excellent chance to cut the margin back to two goals with 15 minutes to play, after being released by Semmy, but Jones stood strong to save his shot, and Team Wellington saw things out from there.


They will now face either Auckland City or Eastern Suburbs in next Sundays grand final at North Harbour Stadium, with the other semifinal taking place at Kiwitea St in Auckland on Sunday.

Team Wellington are hoping to add a third title to the two they won in 2015-16 and 2016-17 before they and the summer-centric, franchise-based national league wind up after 17 seasons.

Wanderers were brave if a bit too willing in their first and last semifinal appearance and will now turn their focus to the Northern League, one of three regional leagues feeding into the new National League Championship, which begins on March 27.

ISPS Handa Mens Premiership semifinals​


Team Wellington 4 (Hamish Watson 12, 36, 70, Sam Mason-Smith 51) Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Tommy Semmy 60). HT: 2-0

Sunday, March 14, 2pm: Auckland City v Eastern Suburbs; Kiwitea St, Auckland

Winners meet in the grand final at North Harbour Stadium on Sunday, March 21.

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