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Ken Borland



UJ lift themselves to pick up 2nd successive title 0

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The University of Johannesburg lifted themselves up from a tough first half to claim their second successive Varsity Hockey men’s title as they beat the University of Pretoria Tuks 4-2 in a thrilling final at their home astroturf in Westdene.

Tuks were outstanding as they gave the defending champions a real run for their money and they led for the first 39 minutes through a fine goal by the prolific Richard Pautz. But UJ equalised through Ryan Crowe, one of the best players of the tournament, and the hosts picked up three more goals in the final quarter to seal victory.

But the result was still in the balance in the final minute as Tuks cut the lead to 2-3 through Grant Glutz and they then earned a short-corner, which was charged down and then resulted in a goal at the other end to complete one of the best finals seen in local hockey in recent years.

Tuks took their chances better in the first half and scored after 20 minutes through Pautz, who went on a weaving run and then beat UJ goalkeeper Matthew Martin at his near post with a powerful reverse-sticks strike for a top-grade goal.

UJ had numerous chances but at times seemed too intent on forcing short-corners, and they were also stymied by a superb display of goalkeeping by Tuks number one Hendrik Kriek.

A couple of saves by Kriek in the 12th and 14th minutes and a double-save in the 21st minute were top-drawer and UJ would have gone into halftime knowing they had to be more clinical in the Tuks circle.

The introduction of the powerplay by Tuks two minutes into the second half meant the focus of UJ was initially on defence, but four minutes later they wasted their most obvious chance of the match as they created a two-on-one with the goalkeeper but the excellent scrambling and reflexes of Kriek saw him save Brynn Cleak’s shot.

But three minutes later, the combined efforts of Cleak and Amkelwa Letuka were enough to set up Crowe in the middle of the circle and he finally managed to beat Kriek.

The end of the third quarter came with Glutz flicking wide from a short-corner and the tension levels of the large crowd reached feverish levels as the final went into the last 15 minutes at 1-1.

Like all champion sides, this was when the composure and class of UJ shone through.

The powerplay did not bring reward either for the hosts, but the heroics of Kriek did keep a high reverse-sticks strike by Crowe out in the 48th minute, shortly after it ended.

The deadlock was broken just a minute later though when Taylor Dart, named the player of the tournament, won a short-corner. UJ kept their composure well when the set-piece initially went awry, and Dart passed the ball back to Gareth Heyns, the captain, and he powered a flick into the top left corner of the goal.

The defending champions took a firm grip on the title in the 51st minute when the umpire, John Wright, officiating alongside his brother Peter, awarded the home side a penalty stroke as the tide suddenly turned against Kriek.
The Tuks hero felled Le-Neal Jackson after his great run into the circle, leaving the umpire with little choice but to point to the spot and give the goalkeeper a yellow card. Heyns duly flicked past Keagan du Preez, the substitute goalkeeper, and UJ had control of the game with a 3-1 lead.

But the result was once again put in doubt just three minutes later – setting up a delicious finale – when Stephen Cant’s fine run earned Tuks a short-corner. Cleak cleared nicely off the line off Glutz, but Tuks then won another short corner and this time Glutz succeeded with his low flick. Martins will perhaps feel he could have done better with the shot, that went between his legs.
Tuks then earned another short-corner in the final minute, Glutz showing his tremendous skill to the joy of his team-mates and the Pretoria students’ supporters.

But that soon turned to awful dismay as Jackson roared up as first wave and charged down the shot, running most of the length of the field before finding Cleak on the baseline. The Namibia-born 23-year-old passed back to Jackson, but his shot was kept out by Du Preez. But the rebound fell to Tyson Dlungwana, who buried it in the goal.

Tuks, with several students playing in their last Varsity Hockey tournament, will return to Pretoria bleak, but they played a full role in a thoroughly crowd-pleasing final.
For UJ, the celebrations will be long and joyous as they keep the trophy in Johannesburg.

http://varsitysportssa.com/uj-lift-pick-second-successive-title/

Titans have beady eye on finishing second 0

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Ken

 

With the Highveld Lions having already clinched the Sunfoil Series title, the focus has now shifted to who will finish second in the four-day competition and the Titans have their beady eye on overtaking the Dolphins in the last round of matches starting today.

The Dolphins lost to the Lions last weekend in the title decider, but the Titans, having drawn against the Cape Cobras, find themselves 12.16 points behind the KwaZulu-Natalians as they host the Knights at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

Experienced all-rounder Albie Morkel has been included in the Titans squad, while batsman Dean Elgar, fresh off a double-hundred, has been rested due to concussion.

The Knights will be boosted by the return of pacemen Quinton Friend and Malusi Siboto and, if they beat the Titans, they could overtake them and claim third place on the log.

The Highveld Lions will want to complete their superb campaign by beating the Warriors at the Wanderers and are likely to name their strongest XI even though nobody can catch them at the top of the standings.

Dominic Hendricks will replace wicketkeeper/batsman Thami Tsolekile, who is being troubled by a finger injury, while the batting will be further strengthened by the return of Alviro Petersen.

The Cobras travel to Pietermaritzburg to take on the Dolphins and the defending champions are motivated by the desire not to finish last in this season’s competition. They will be given a fresh look by the introduction of batsman and part-time off-spinner Matthew Kleinveldt, who replaces his rested cousin Rory, and wrist-spinner George Linde, who fills in for Robin Peterson.

 

Pace quartet key to Lions’ triumph, but batsmen & back-up bowlers too 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

 

The presence of all four first-choice pace bowlers in the top five of the Sunfoil Series averages was obviously a key factor in the Highveld Lions clinching the four-day title with a match to spare, but Geoff Toyana also praised the batsmen and the back-up bowlers for their vital role in the franchise’s third trophy in three seasons.

Dwaine Pretorius (19 wickets @ 18.52), Chris Morris (27 @ 20.44), Kagiso Rabada (34 @ 21.67) and Hardus Viljoen (31 @ 22.22) proved the adage that bowlers win matches as they played key roles in the Lions’ six wins, but they could not have done it without the support provided by the batsmen.

Captain Stephen Cook was obviously the outstanding contributor in this regard with 889 runs at 68.38, including five centuries, but the contributions of Temba Bavuma (545 @ 77.85), Neil McKenzie (487 @ 48.70) and Thami Tsolekile (424 @ 42.40) were also immense.

Back-up bowlers like Sean Jamison, with 12 wickets in three games, Pumelela Matshikwe (7wkts) and Eddie Leie (13wkts) were also crucial in filling in when the top four weren’t around.

“That combination of Kagiso, Chris, Hardus and Dwaine was really special, but we were fortunate because our depth was very good. We beat the Cobras by an innings with only Dwaine playing out of those, so those other bowlers don’t get the headlines but they really came through for us.

“With the bat, Stephen scoring five centuries was really special, plus there was his experience and leadership, while Neil was also in the runs and Temba came back from the Test team and did the business for us,” Toyana said.

It is the first time the Lions have won the four-day title since 1999/2000, in the pre-franchise days when they played as Gauteng, and Toyana said that made the triumph extra special.

“It’s the trophy we’ve wanted all these years and I’m very happy for the squad because it was tough last season, when we finished last in all competitions. But the belief in the squad was there because we did not make many changes, it was just a change in attitude that did the trick,” Toyana said.

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.

http://www.sahockey.co.za/tournaments/233-ruthless-southern-gauteng-claim-title-in-emphatic-fashion

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