It is not only rugby players who practise with odd-shaped balls, writes Carol Newman.

Okehampton Ladies Second XI discovered this at training on Wednesday when coach, Richard Jones, turned up with a bag of avocado-shaped hockey balls. The intention was to prepare the team for their match against Launceston on the notoriously bouncy Tavistock pitch.

Forcing the team to focus on skills easily taken for granted, such as trapping the ball and passing it accurately, paid huge dividends when the two teams met on Saturday.

Okehampton were a little flustered at the start, but within 10 minutes or so, settled into their game, concentration etched on their faces as they each made sure of getting the right connection with the ball.

The Columbines were soon dictating the game and a well-intercepted ball saw winger Emma Wiseman charge into the opposition D and whistle the ball passed the Launceston ‘keeper.

Okehampton kept up the pressure from the midfield trio of Abi Cleave, Joey Drake and Amanda Sim and several attacks on goal resulted in a penalty flick being awarded to the attacking side. Izzy Watt stepped up and expertly tucked the ball away to take the score to 2-0.

Okehampton were now in their stride and excellent link-up play between Christine Wolmarans and Molly Bushin resulted in two further goals from Molly, taking the score to 4-0 at half-time.

The second half saw Launceston rally, putting defenders Jane Jones, Carol Taylor and Sarah Bazely under pressure before releasing a well-struck hit into the far corner of keeper, Carol Newman’s goal to put them on the scoresheet.

Unfazed by this, Okehampton stuck to their game and piled on the pressure through wing-backs Rachael Luxton and player of the match, Emma Bisson. This pressure paid off when Abi Cleave picked out Izzy Watt from a long corner to give Okehampton their fifth and final goal of the match.

The score ended 5-1.

Okehampton Ladies Seconds are at home to Dart 3 this Saturday.