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Ken Borland

Germany & Belgium confirmed as men’s finalists 0

Posted on July 21, 2017 by Ken


Germany and Belgium confirmed themselves as the men’s finalists for the Hockey World League at the Wits Astro on Friday night with thrilling semi-final wins.

Germany were 1-0 down to Spain as they entered the last five minutes of their semifinal, but they never lost their composure, never tried anything silly and barely looked like a side chasing the game for a spot in a  final.

Having just taken off their goalkeeper and with sterling defender Mathias Muller acting as a kicking back, captain Mats Grambusch then produced a superb run along the baseline before flipping the ball back for Ferdinand Weinke to slap in the equaliser.

Grambusch also marked himself out as a special player in the shootout, which went to sudden death, as he scored with both of his brilliant attempts.

Christopher Ruhr, firstly after Dieter-Enrique Linnekogel had won a penalty stroke, provided the other two goals in the shootout and goalkeeper Mark Appel also made some great saves for Germany to find their way through to the final.

In the other semifinal, Cedric Charlier and Amaury Keusters both scored for Belgium, before Australia pulled a goal back from a short-corner after the hooter for the end of the third quarter, through a fine flick by Jeremy Hayward.

Then, with just 19 seconds left in the match, Kiran Arunasalam thought he had scored the equaliser for Australia, but Kiwi umpire Gareth Greenfield called for a referral and a small foot was discovered, leading to the goal being disallowed.

The USA and Germany will meet in the women’s final on Sunday, while South Africa’s women’s side play in the fifth/sixth playoff against Japan on Saturday at 1.30pm.

Earlier on Friday, South Africa’s national men’s team beat Japan 4-2 in their playoff for ninth and 10th place with veteran former South African captain Austin Smith proving himself a jack of all trades as he scored two goals and led a determined defensive effort.

The hard-fought victory ensured the hosts not only didn’t finish last in the tournament, but it means they avoid relegation from the elite level of the event.

While the 32-year-old Smith twice rocketed superb short-corner drag-flicks into the right-hand corner of goal, the match was marked by a top-class display from the 18-year-old prodigy Dayaan Cassiem.

Cassiem was a constant threat running with the ball and he set up both the 29th-minute short-corner that saw South Africa go 2-1 up through Smith’s second goal, and the penalty-corner four minutes from full time that made sure of victory.

Cassiem pounced on a deflection and, spinning and shooting all in one motion, he fired the ball into goal to give the home side a two-goal cushion.

Coach Fabian Gregory said the performance left no doubt that Cassiem is a future superstar.

“Dayaan was fantastic today, I took huge flak for choosing him because he was just 18 years old and had not played in an IPT yet, but you could see today that it was a no-brainer. He’s the most exciting striker in the country, a real goal-scorer and he’s always just so focused on the rebounds.

“He’s had offers from all around the world, but first he must get his matric and study further. As a player, he’s really hard on himself and is extremely humble. He’s such an exciting prospect, but he’s really grounded,” Gregory told The Citizen on Friday.

Japan equalised just a minute after Smith had scored his first short-corner goal, but the defender put South Africa 2-1 up just before halftime. The Japanese dominated the third quarter, however, with Genki Mitani ramming home their second equaliser.

South Africa claimed a 3-2 lead though after a superb breakaway. Julian Hykes ran aggressively from midfield, combining with Rhett Halkett down the left, before Cassiem’s mis-hit shot hit a Japanese defender in the goalmouth, leading to a penalty stroke. Jonty Robinson’s flick was not his most confident effort, but it nevertheless went into the right-hand corner of the goal.

Gregory said he was pleased his team had won playing a more exciting brand of hockey.

“Playing the youngsters with their exuberance and their willingness to go out and play is exciting and they showed the way forward today, it was good for the team to show they can play attacking hockey. We want to try and score goals, we want to play with more speed, play with no fear. The ability to close out a game is also important and knowing when to put the knife in,” Gregory said.

Results: 9th-10th – South Africa 4 (Austin Smith 2, Jonathan Robinson, Dayaan Cassiem) Japan 2 (Koji Yamasaki, Genki Mitani); 5th-8th New Zealand 2 (Nick Haig, Kane Russell) Egypt 0, Ireland 1 (Shane O’Donoghue) France 1 (Hugo Genestet), Ireland won shootout 4-3 (Conor Harte, Eugene Magee, John Jackson, Chris Cargo vs Viktor Lockwood, Jean-Laurent Kieffer, Pieter van Straaten); Semi-finals – Germany 1 (Ferdinand Weinke) Spain 1 (Ricardo Sanchez), Germany won shootout 4-3 (Mats Grambusch 2, Dieter-Enrique Linnekogel/Christopher Ruhr 2 vs Sergi Enrique 2, Alvaro Iglesias); Belgium 2 (Cedric Charlier, Amaury Keusters) Australia 1 (Jeremy Hayward).

Saturday’s fixtures: Women’s 7th-8th – 11.15am India v Ireland; Women’s 5th-6th – 1.30pm South Africa v Japan; Men’s 7th-8th – 3.45pm Egypt v France; Men’s 5th-6th 6pm New Zealand v Ireland.


Everything goes pear-shaped for SA v Belgium 0

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Ken


Everything went wrong for South Africa’s men’s side in a nightmare first half in which they conceded seven goals, before they regrouped and eventually lost 9-1 to Belgium in their Hockey World League match at the Wits Astro on Monday night.

While South Africa were undeniably poor, flatfooted and always half-a-yard off the pace of the game, credit must also go to Belgium for a dazzling first half in which everything they touched turned to gold, thanks to some ruthless finishing.

The home side, except for 18-year-old Dayaan Cassiem, waging a lone battle as he ran impressively up front, showed little of the fight that had characterised their women’s side in their memorable win over the USA the night before.

The first 20 minutes were bad enough for South Africa as they found themselves 3-0 down, Belgium scoring through an Alexander Hendrickx short-corner goal, Nicolas de Kerpel one-timing a loose ball into the roof of the net for a wonder-goal, and then captain Thomas Briels scrambling in the third.

Except it would get worse as Belgium then piled on four goals in the last five minutes of the first half. Simon Gougnard was allowed to waltz along the baseline before passing to a totally unmarked Briels to score the fourth; Sebastien Dockier also just ran away from his marker to get a good pass from Gauthier Boccard and slam a reverse-sticks rocket in; and Loick Luypaert’s fluffed short-corner drag-flick then somehow eluded goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and post-man Tim Drummond; before Cedric Charlier, the driver of much of Belgium’s attacking play, got on the end of an overhead from Augustin Meurmans, showed good skill dribbling into the circle and then shot home between the goalkeeper’s legs.

South Africa coach Fabian Gregory said the mentality of the shellshocked team for the second half was just to make it a contest, which they succeeded in doing.

“In the first half we made unforced errors, our basic skills were non-existent and we could not keep the ball, and you cannot do that against a world-class team like Belgium, they punished us every time, but I was disappointed by some of the soft goals we let in.

“The second half was the type of hockey I expect from the team after a really disappointing first half. It was about how much we could compete, we said we were starting again at 0-0 and we will try and salvage something from the game,” Gregory said afterwards.

The second half did not start well for the hosts though as Jethro Eustice made a good tackle in the circle but the ball went back towards his own goal, and Matthew Guise-Brown slipped in trying to clear it and Dockier was presented with an easy goal.

But South Africa were on the scoreboard two minutes later as Guise-Brown fired a superb short-corner drag-flick into the top-right corner and they had a handful of other good chances in the second half.

It was Belgium who would have the final say, however, as more soft defending by South Africa in the 59th minute saw them just stand off and allow Boccard to run into the circle and fire the ball into goal past Richard Curtis, who replaced Pieterse for the second half and impressed.

Gregory said he was particularly unhappy that his team did not stick to the strategy that had been decided beforehand.

“If I’m brutally honest, the team did not execute tactically what we asked for, the application of that strategy was terrible and that’s why we did not cope well with the Belgian press.”

South Africa will now play a promotion/relegation game against Japan on Friday and will be desperate to stay up in the elite Hockey World League.

Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Egypt will go through to the quarterfinals from Pool B, to play France, New Zealand, Spain and Australia respectively.

Results: Germany 2 (Tom Grambusch, Martin Zwicker) Ireland 0; Australia 7 (Mark Knowles, Jake Whetton 2, Dylan Wotherspoon, Aran Zalewski, Tom Wickham, Jeremy Hayward) Japan 2 (Shota Yamada, Hirotaka Zendana); Spain 4 (Josep Romeu, Enrique Gonzalez, Alvaro Iglesias, Pau Quemada) New Zealand 3 (Shea McAleese, Nic Woods, Kane Russell); Belgium 9 (Alexander Hendrickx, Nicolas de Kerpel, Thomas Briels 2, Sebastien Dockier 2, Loick Luypaert, Cedric Charlier, Gauthier Boccard) South Africa 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Tuesday’s fixtures (women’s quarterfinals): 11.15 USA v Japan; 1.30 Argentina v Ireland; 3.45 England v India; 6pm Germany v South Africa.

Haas & Colsaerts lead … but just by 2 0

Posted on January 07, 2013 by Ken

American Bill Haas and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts shared the first-round lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday, but they were far from a dominant position as eight of the 12-man field finished the day within two strokes of the pair.

Haas and Colsaerts both shot two-under-par 70s to head the leaderboard, with Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Lawrie and defending champion Lee Westwood just a stroke back.

Five other golfers were level-par after the first round, including former world number one Martin Kaymer and South African Charl Schwartzel.

On a cloudless, boiling hot day in the Pilanesberg, the 12-man field struggled in tough conditions, with a shifting breeze and the thickness of the rough causing much uncertainty.

Oosthuizen, the highest-ranked South African golfer in the world, claimed the early lead after he rebounded from a one-over-par outward nine, featuring three bogeys and two birdies, with a solid two-under 34 coming in, for a 71 overall.

But Haas, a Sun City rookie, stormed to four-under-par through 15 holes before slipping back to a 70 after dropped shots on the par-three 16th and par-four 18th holes.

Colsaerts, playing in the two-ball after Haas, produced the most consistent round of the day with just a single bogey, at the daunting par-four eighth hole.

The long-hitting Ryder Cup hero, also making his debut in the NGC, said it was hard work making allowance for the wind as well as altitude and the thickness of the semi-rough.

“The wind was a bit difficult to read. It always seemed to be coming off the side,” Colsaerts said.

“And with the effects of altitude and different grass to what we’re used to in the rough, it was very easy to get your yardage calculations wrong.”

The 30-year-old Colsaerts is one of the most entertaining golfers in the field, given his length off the tee, but he said he felt compelled to rein himself in because of the testing conditions.

“I didn’t use a very aggressive game plan, even with the driver when I used it. I think I played like everyone else, hitting the same spots, because you were better off hitting an iron from the fairway than a lob-wedge out of the kikuyu rough.

“I probably played close to my best in terms of management off the tee.”

Haas had the chance to separate himself from the rest of the field, but the American, whose father Jay is playing in the Champions Challenge on the same course, was satisfied with his round.

“I’d done well to get to four-under. There was a bit of breeze out there, the wind showed its teeth today, and, after missing a short putt on 16, I was happy to make a 10-footer for bogey on the last,” Haas said.

“I didn’t win it today, but I’m not out of it either.”

England’s Justin Rose, one of the pre-tournament favourites, will have to put pressure on the leaders from afar after he struggled to a one-over-par 73. The world number four birdied the two par-fives around the turn, but then picked up three successive bogeys from the 11th to 13th holes.


Colsaerts again on top 0

Posted on January 21, 2012 by Ken

Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts shot a four-under-par 69 on Saturday to again find himself at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the Volvo Golf Champions at the Fancourt Links.
    Colsaerts fired a course-record 64 in the first round of the two million euro event to claim a four-shot lead, but then struggled to a 76 in the second round to slip six shots behind South African Branden Grace.
    But on a day on which only 10 of the 35 golfers were under-par, Colsaerts’ impressive round, capped by an eagle-three on the 18th hole, vaulted him back into a tie for first place with Grace on 10-under.
    Grace shot a two-over-par 75 in the tricky weather conditions, marked by a blustery wind and steady rain for most of the day, while fellow South Africans Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel are on nine-under-par.
    European Ryder Cup captain Jose’-Maria Olazabal coaxed a one-under-par 72 out of the course to lie alone in fifth place on eight-under.
    Masters champion Schwartzel made the biggest move on the third day with a five-under-par 68. The world number nine eagled the par-five ninth hole to go out in just 32 strokes, but his hot run petered out on the back nine, which he completed in one-under-par.
    The long-hitting Colsaerts capitalised on some daring drives down the tight Fancourt fairways as he shrugged off a bogey on the first hole with birdies on the fourth, sixth and ninth holes. He was level-par on the back nine before his spectacular eagle on the 502-metre last hole.
    “I hit an enormous drive on 18, leaving me 190 to the flag, and then hit an eight-iron on to the green. It was nice to make that putt after a drive like that,” Colsaerts told reporters after his round.
    “The last few holes suit my long-driving skills so I go with my strengths. If I hit a good one, I can get half-a-shot on the field and that’s quite an advantage,” he said.
    The scorecards of most of the golfers were filled with drop shots and there were two quadruple-bogeys – by Pablo Martin, who shot a 17-over-par 90, and Kenneth Ferrie – and five triple-bogeys.
    Schwartzel said he was not surprised that the scoring had ballooned on Saturday.
    “You can’t come here and play one practice round and think you’re going to conquer the course. You need to know it really well because a lot of the slopes you can use to your benefit, but a lot of them can bite you.
    “The first two days were pretty easy because we weren’t hitting long clubs into the greens. But today was a lot tougher out there, the wind and misty rain made it difficult. I was hitting four-irons into the wind where normally I’d be hitting a seven-iron. That’s how short the ball is going, the fairways are also a lot softer, and it’s very difficult hitting long-irons into these greens. You need to be wide awake and commit to whatever shot you’re playing because the margins are not big out there,” Schwartzel said
    Schwartzel has been battling a cold putter and he once again complained about his performance on the green.
    “All my birdies were basically tap-ins. The ball just hasn’t been going in the hole otherwise. It feels like I’m hitting good putts, but I’m not starting them on-line and when I do, I’m just reading them wrong,” Schwartzel said.

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