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Ken Borland

Ruthless Southern Gauteng claim title in emphatic fashion 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken


Southern Gauteng claimed the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals men’s title in the most emphatic manner with a ruthlessly efficient 5-1 victory over the SA U21s in the final at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Saturday.


The greater experience of the Southern Gauteng team was shown by their tremendous composure in defence, the SA U21s certainly threatening more than the scoreline would suggest. Up front, the home team were clinical, with Stuart Spooner and Julian Hykes taking full advantage of what were no more than half-chances for their goals.


Both teams took a while to settle down in a nervy first quarter, that finished goalless, with just one short-corner to Southern Gauteng.

Spooner opened the scoring in the 21st minute with an impressive reverse-sticks shot from an angle, but there is such talent in this SA U21 side that it was not much of a surprise when they equalised moments later, the hard-working Matthew de Sousa setting up a short-corner and then managing to get the ball past the daunting frame of national goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse with a clever deflection.

But Southern Gauteng were extremely dangerous on the break and less than a minute had passed when they were back in front, Clinton Panther rounding the defence and flipping the ball back for Brad Venter to pop it into goal.


When Hykes was gifted the ball at the top of the SA U21 circle by a foolish mistake but blasted his shot over the goal, it went down as a potentially crucial moment as Southern Gauteng went into halftime 2-1 up.


But the mark of a champion team has often been described as the ability to lift their performance by a notch under pressure and Southern Gauteng did just that as they came out for the third quarter and blew the SA U21s away with three goals.

A strong run by Brandon Panther set up a short-corner, from which Gareth Heyns gave a perfect example of a drag-flick into the top right of the net.


Southern Gauteng then gave a masterclass in exerting pressure as they squeezed the SA U21s into the left corner, eventually forcing the defence to gift possession away. Clinton Panther pounced, found Hykes, who crossed for Brynn Cleak to slot the fourth goal.


A pinpoint, perfectly-struck reverse-sticks shot by Hykes in the 42nd minute brought the fifth and final goal.

Southern Gauteng, patient and composed, structurally aware and able to read the game so well, were the worthiest of champions.

Trott fails but Robson & Lyth give England A emphatic start 0

Posted on March 07, 2015 by Ken

Jonathan Trott may have failed on his return to South African soil, but openers Sam Robson and Adam Lyth both scored centuries as the England Lions made an emphatic start to their tour against a Gauteng Invitation XI at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus Oval on Monday.

Trott may be the centre of attention as he tries to resurrect his international career after a self-imposed exile due to a stress-related condition that left him too mentally vulnerable to play cricket, but the South African-born batsman lasted just 20 minutes and 13 balls at the crease, leaving the spotlight to Robson and Lyth as they powered England A to 361 for four at stumps.

Lyth and Robson added 176 for the first wicket before Robson retired on 109, having stroked 12 fours and a six in a fluent 152-ball innings befitting England’s current Test incumbent opener.

Lyth retired 12 overs later on 106, having started watchfully and then sped up as he faced 171 balls and hit 16 fours and a six.

When an actual wicket did finally occur, it was Trott’s, the 49-Test veteran sparring outside the off stump and being caught behind for six off Keith Dudgeon, a 19-year-old seamer with just one first-class wicket.

James Vince also fell cheaply for seven, caught at cover off Nono Pongolo – a dismissal which advertised the slow nature of the pitch as the ball ‘stopped’ on the batsman – before Alex Lees played some sparkling cricket in going to 82 not out off 136 deliveries.

Jonny Bairstow was also showing signs of living up to his billing as he crunched 32 not out before stumps, capitalising on a second new ball that was woefully used by Gauteng.

Dudgeon (17-6-41-1) and Pongolo (17-4-59-1) both bowled tidily enough on a flat pitch, but fellow seamers Matthew Arnold (16-1-102-0) and Lazarus Mokoena (15-3-73-0) were both expensive.

Left-arm spinner Dale Deeb (22-4-66-0) will be disappointed his accurate bowling did not bring reward, but first-day pitches like the one at the scenic Soweto Campus Oval are not going to provide much turn.

This is a vital tour for the likes of Robson, Lyth and Lees, who are all aiming to be included in England’s touring party to the West Indies in April and, with former head coach Andy Flower watching from the sideline, they all would have kept themselves firmly in the selectors’ thoughts.

“It’s another good opportunity to play high-standard cricket for the Lions and obviously, on a personal level, it’s nice to get runs and put on a good show. I managed to get a partnership going with Adam and we’ve started the tour well before the ‘tests’. It’s going to be a good, hard tour leading up to the West Indies tour, which a number of us are hoping to get on to,” Robson said.

“They bowled pretty well with the new ball and then went quite negative, with a seven-two field and bowling wide, so I had to rein myself in, leave well, not give my wicket away and then cash in later when the bowlers were tired,” Lyth added.

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