There will be little debate that the 2019 Premier Hockey League has produced some of the most outstanding attacking hockey, which was once again the theme of the semi-finals.
Madikwe Rangers (4) 3-3 (3) Orange River Rafters
For the second year in a row it was heart break for the Orange River Rafters at the Semi-Final stage against the Madikwe Rangers on a penalty shootout. For the Rangers it gives them the opportunity to finally take the final hurdle having twice failed at the final stage.
Nicky Veto won an early penalty corner for the Rangers that was punished by Lisa Deetlefs with a trademark slap. The impressive Donna Small then helped matters level when her superb run was slotted home by Zimkitha Weston. The scored stayed that way for half an hour before one of the finest all-time PHL goals was scored by Kristen Paton. She took on five players as she made her way into the D and then slid the ball past Cheree Greyvenstein superbly.
The Rafters levelled again with a superb deflection by Dirkie Chamberlain on the back of a very well worked short corner. That joy was short lived as Toni Marks won the Rangers a short corner which Ashleigh Datnow deflected a Deetlefs slap home. There was still time for Ongi Mali to play party pooper as she finished off a goal mouth scramble and sent the match to a shootout.
The shootouts went to sudden death but after Paton and Chamberlain had scored Casey-Jean Botha had her shot saved and Deetlefs confirmed a third final for the Rangers, the first team to achieve this.
Wineland Wings 4-3 Namaqualand Daisies
The tempo did not die down in the second game as the Wineland Wings and Namaqualand Daisies played out a superb semi-final with the victor qualifying for their first ever final. The Daisies surprisingly held an early lead when quick play by Bianca Wood secured the ball for Thati Segoale who finished expertly. The crowd at Randburg had to wait until the third quarter for the Wings to answer the call and they did it through their all-time leading goalscorer Tarryn Glasyb firing home a penalty corner.
The Wings then took the lead through tournament top scorer Sylvia van Jaarsveledt who finished a super opportunistic goal. It all kicked off in the fourth quarter though as Ashleigh Thomas pounced to level the score at 2-2 before Bianca Wood showed her ability under pressure to turn the game on its head and get the Daisies fans dreaming.
Those dreams will become Jade Mayne nightmares for the Daisies because the Wings superstar showed extreme poise and control at the top of the D and fired one in low and hard to level the game before van Jaarsveldt popped up with another trademark goal to settle it once and for all for the Wings.
Drakensberg Dragons 3-1 Maropeng Cavemen
In a repeat of the 2017 final and the 2018 semi-final the most played fixture in PHL history saw the Dragons emerge victorious over the Cavemen to become the first team in PHL history to secure three consecutive final appearances.
They took the lead when big game goal scorer Bili Ntuli caught Rassie Pieterse off guard and slid the ball under him in the 12th minute. The Cavemen would raise the game themselves looking to become the first team to win the trophy three times. They also had Pieterse to thank after he twice denied Ross Hetem in unbeleivable fashion.
Dayaan Cassiem was taken out in a heavy challenge, but the Cavemen played the ball quickly. Callum Buchanan found himself open on the top of the d and fired it home expertly. But the Dragons were back ahead shortly after when Bili Ntuli produced a sensational run and ball for Ross Hetem to finish. The Dragons should have had more but struck the upright twice before a superb finish by Amkelwe Letuka made it 3-1 and settled the game.
Mapungubwe Mambas (3) 1-1 (0) Garden Route Gazelles
It was a tight affair in the second match as Lungile Tsolekile’s Mambas took on good friend Ashlin Freddy’s Gazelles. The Mambas were the favourites having topped the group stage and showed that favouritism in the 6th minute through Luthando Jonas who found a pin point rocket into the bottom left corner.
Both sides had chances to add to the scoring, but Paton and Sibbald from the Gazelles and Dollman from the Mambas were all dented spectacularly. But finally, with four minutes left on the clock the Gazelles did equalize. A fumbled stop from a PC was worked across to Keenan Horne who finished sensationally. 1-1 the final score. The day had stated with a shootout and was going to do end the same way.
The earlier shootout needed extra rounds but this one needed only three. Ryan Mann, Ryan Julius and Mustaphaa Cassiem all netted theirs while no one breached the goal of Goals of Rob McKinley for the Mambas.
CTM Premier Hockey League – 03 August 2019
10:00 – Women’s Bronze – Orange River Rafters vs. Namaqualand Daisies
12:00 – Men’s Bronze – Maropeng Cavemen vs. Garden Route Gazelles
14:00 – Women’s Final – Madikwe Rangers vs. Wineland Wings
16:00 – Men’s Final – Drakensberg Dragons vs. Mapungubwe Mambas
Images - Marcel Sigg