SA Hockey Twitter Feed

 

National women’s hockey coach Sheldon Rostron has hailed the Premier Hockey League as an important part of the bigger picture of the country’s hockey set-up and said the standard of this year’s tournament was a big step up from 2016.

Speaking as the curtain came down on the 2017 event, Rostron was also enthusiastic about the growth opportunities for such a tournament.

The unheralded Orange River Rafters were crowned women’s champions and the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen lifted the men’s trophy for a second consecutive year as the tournament came to an end on Tuesday evening.

“From last year’s PHL, I think we’ve seen a big improvement in the quality of hockey this year. I think it’s been part of our processes to make sure, from high performance, that we’ve really looked at the top players that are here, how those teams get put together,” said Rostron.

“We also tried to integrate all the under-21s that are in the system as well to make sure that they were all here to perform and we were very happy with the quality in general,” added the coach.

“Within Africa this is definitely one of the strongest leagues and we need to look at how we grow ourselves from this – potentially latching on to international players that could maybe come and add value in a process like this, and hopefully being able to professionalise in the long-term. I think that way we could really add a lot of value to the national team.”

With two major tournaments on the horizon for the national sides, the PHL provided selectors with one last chance to have a look at potential team members – with Rostron hinting there may even be a few surprises when his Commonwealth Games team is announced in January.

“In terms of players that we’ve seen, there’ve certainly been one or two that we’ve been happy to have a look at. I definitely think there are some players here that have put up their hands quite nicely,” he added.

Meanwhile, CEO of SA Hockey Marissa Langeni was also full of praise for the tournament. “I’m absolutely pleased with how the tournament has gone. I think there’s been some really exciting hockey for fans out there and I think the Premier Hockey League is obviously an event that everybody has been looking forward to.

“There were a few challenges with the rain but then again, over 8255 hockey fans have come through the gates to enjoy the spectacular display of hockey over the last three weekends –  I think that it’s been a phenomenal event all round.”

Looking ahead to next year’s tournament, which will likely be played in the winter months, Langeni added: “We’re now looking forward to PHL 2018 and to build on the successes achieved this year which, additional to the on field game, include educational workshops presented by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport as well as Milk SA from a nutritional perspective.

“Just in terms of the talent pool that’s out there, a lot of players are now asking how they can get involved in the PHL as they are realising that this is where they want to play. It is important for us as a national association to continue providing opportunities of access to the sport. The PHL provides us with a platform to create greater access for high performance athletes outside of our traditional inter-provincial tournaments.

“Our thanks go out to all our sponsors – SRSA, SuperSport, CTM, Crossroads, MilkSA, Tsogo, Grays, Greenfields, Old Mutual iWYZE and Private Property – for giving the players that opportunity and being a part of the hockey revolution in South Africa.”

 

Tournament award winners:

Men:

Player of the tournament: Miguel da Graca (Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen)

Top goal-scorer: Courtney Halle (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)

Best goalkeeper: Gowan Jones (ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons)

Best junior player: Tyson Dlungwana (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)

 

Women:

Player of the tournament: Kristen Paton (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)

Top goal-scorer: Sulette Damons (Orange River Rafters) and Tiffany Jones (Private Property St Lucia Lakers)

Best goalkeeper: Nicole La Fleur (Wineland Wings)

Best junior player: Ongi Mali (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)

 

Photos by Marcel Sigg

  • Former FIFA and Adidas Global executive set to join in April 2018
  • Mr Weil's 'experience and knowledge will prove invaluable', says FIH President 
  • French national Weil succeeds Jason McCracken

Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) today announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with Thierry Weil set to join the organisation in April 2018.

Mr Weil has more than 35 years’ worth of experience as an executive leader and has a proven track record working at the highest levels of sports administration on the global stage.

A French national who is fluent in French, German and English, Thierry Weil is multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-lingual. His strong international reputation in the highest echelons of the sports industry has been cemented thanks to his executive roles at two companies – Adidas Global and, most recently, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Mr Weil spent over 25 years working for Adidas and held the position of ‘Vice President, Global Football Sports’ between 2003 and 2007, before enjoying a ten-year spell as the 'Director of Marketing' with FIFA at their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Commenting on the appointment, FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said: ‘The FIH Executive Board and myself are absolutely delighted that Thierry will be joining the FIH. He has an impressive and varied skillset which combines a strong, successful commercial background with the know-how that comes from a decade of working at the largest international sporting federation in the world. We were left in no doubt that he was the stand-out candidate for this crucial leadership position.'

Mr Weil, who replaces previous incumbent Jason McCracken following his departure earlier this year, joins the FIH at one of the most exciting times in the long history of the sport.

As well as the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 (21 July - 5 August) and Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 (28 November – 16 December) events which take place later this year in England and India respectively, the inaugural season of the Hockey Pro League is also very much on the horizon.

The game-changing competition sees 152 international matches being played between January and June 2019 at locations all around the world, with nine men’s and nine women’s teams competing for the title. 

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Weil said: ‘I am honoured to have the trust of the FIH President and the Executive Board for the CEO position. My mission, together with our team in Lausanne, will be to inspire the next generation and make the Hockey Revolution happen.’

Dr Batra added: 'Thierry’s vast experience and knowledge will prove invaluable to the FIH as an organisation and also to the Hockey Revolution, as we enter the next phase of our ambition to become ‘a global game that inspires the next generation’. We greatly look forward to his arrival in April.'

 

National women’s hockey coach Sheldon Rostron has hailed the Premier Hockey League as an important part of the bigger picture of the country’s hockey set-up and said the standard of this year’s tournament was a big step up from 2016.

Speaking as the curtain came down on the 2017 event, Rostron was also enthusiastic about the growth opportunities for such a tournament.

The unheralded Orange River Rafters were crowned women’s champions and the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen lifted the men’s trophy for a second consecutive year as the tournament came to an end on Tuesday evening.

“From last year’s PHL, I think we’ve seen a big improvement in the quality of hockey this year. I think it’s been part of our processes to make sure, from high performance, that we’ve really looked at the top players that are here, how those teams get put together,” said Rostron.

“We also tried to integrate all the under-21s that are in the system as well to make sure that they were all here to perform and we were very happy with the quality in general,” added the coach.

“Within Africa this is definitely one of the strongest leagues and we need to look at how we grow ourselves from this – potentially latching on to international players that could maybe come and add value in a process like this, and hopefully being able to professionalise in the long-term. I think that way we could really add a lot of value to the national team.”

With two major tournaments on the horizon for the national sides, the PHL provided selectors with one last chance to have a look at potential team members – with Rostron hinting there may even be a few surprises when his Commonwealth Games team is announced in January.

“In terms of players that we’ve seen, there’ve certainly been one or two that we’ve been happy to have a look at. I definitely think there are some players here that have put up their hands quite nicely,” he added.

Meanwhile, CEO of SA Hockey Marissa Langeni was also full of praise for the tournament. “I’m absolutely pleased with how the tournament has gone. I think there’s been some really exciting hockey for fans out there and I think the Premier Hockey League is obviously an event that everybody has been looking forward to.

“There were a few challenges with the rain but then again, over 8255 hockey fans have come through the gates to enjoy the spectacular display of hockey over the last three weekends –  I think that it’s been a phenomenal event all round.”

Looking ahead to next year’s tournament, which will likely be played in the winter months, Langeni added: “We’re now looking forward to PHL 2018 and to build on the successes achieved this year which, additional to the on field game, include educational workshops presented by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport as well as Milk SA from a nutritional perspective.

“Just in terms of the talent pool that’s out there, a lot of players are now asking how they can get involved in the PHL as they are realising that this is where they want to play. It is important for us as a national association to continue providing opportunities of access to the sport. The PHL provides us with a platform to create greater access for high performance athletes outside of our traditional inter-provincial tournaments.

“Our thanks go out to all our sponsors – SRSA, SuperSport, CTM, Crossroads, MilkSA, Tsogo, Grays, Greenfields, Old Mutual iWYZE and Private Property – for giving the players that opportunity and being a part of the hockey revolution in South Africa.”

 

Tournament award winners:

Men:

Player of the tournament: Miguel da Graca (Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen)

Top goal-scorer: Courtney Halle (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)

Best goalkeeper: Gowan Jones (ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons)

Best junior player: Tyson Dlungwana (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)

 

Women:

Player of the tournament: Kristen Paton (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)

Top goal-scorer: Sulette Damons (Orange River Rafters) and Tiffany Jones (Private Property St Lucia Lakers)

Best goalkeeper: Nicole La Fleur (Wineland Wings)

Best junior player: Ongi Mali (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)

 

Photos by Marcel Sigg

 

 

The Orange River Rafters completed their climb from rock bottom to the pinnacle of the Premier Hockey League, while the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen stormed to a successful title defence in Johannesburg today.

 

After their extraordinary road to the final, the Rafters took the title with victory over the Private Property St Lucia Lakers while the Cavemen claimed a resounding win over the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons.

 

It wasn’t the match the Rafters would have hoped for though as yet another Highveld thunderstorm took its toll on proceedings at the Randburg Astro. As a result of the persistent lightning the women’s final went straight to a shoot-out.

 

That’s not something the Rafters would have been relishing considering none of their previous matches in the tournament had gone to shoot-outs while the Lakers had played in two before that point. In fact, the Rafters had not even practised a shoot-out prior to the final.

 

But it seemed fate was on their side. With the scores level after the first round, they eventually sealed the deal with a 3-2 win to take the title that seemed so far out of their reach after the first weekend of matches when they suffered two losses and were written off by many as the tournament no-hopers.

 

“I don’t think anyone would have thought we’d be champions,” said a thrilled Rafters captain Sulette Damons, who finished as the tournament’s top goalscorer, despite missing the first weekend’s matches. “We were the underdogs but we took it game by game and everyone kept on believing and did so well to get us where we are.

 

“Obviously we wanted to play – it’s not nice to win like this and it’s unlucky for the St Lucia Lakers but at the end there has to be a winner and we’ll take it. We had a slow start but as they say – it’s how you end and we ended on a high note.

 

“We hadn’t practised shoot-outs at all so we just went in with hope and luck and faith. We finished bottom last year so to win this competition is just awesome.”

 

Rafters coach Shaun Hulley felt some sympathy for the Lakers, after serving as their assistant coach in 2016. “This morning I looked at the weather and I saw 5 o’ clock thunderstorms – I was hoping it wasn’t going to go to this. It’s not the greatest way to win. I know the Lakers girls really well and my heart really goes out to them. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we just shared it, but in the competition you unfortunately have to have a winner. Our girls did play their hearts out this week though and I don’t want to deny them that so we’ll enjoy it,” he said afterwards.

 

Asked if he could ever have expected to take the title after that horrible opening weekend, Hulley admitted: “I would not have believed it. After our first weekend I was really worried. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the tournament but we did know that if we just stuck to our processes and kept focusing on what we could do we’d get better, and that’s what we did.” The coach also paid tribute to national stars Damons and Dirkie Chamberlain for their enormous contribution to turning things around for the team.

 

The clouds had cleared by the time the Cavemen took to the field to complete their mission of defending the title they won in 2016. Staying true to the game plan that’s worked so well for them so far, they slotted in an early goal – Brynn Cleak finding the back of the net in the 11th minute. Miguel da Graca then made things even more difficult for the Dragons when he doubled the Cavemen’s lead just three minutes later.

 

Dragons coach Sihle Ntuli has been talking all tournament about how his side were managing to make the most of the opportunities they were creating. But that wasn’t the case tonight as numerous chances went begging. By the time Michael Abrahams slotted in a third for the Cavemen at the end of the third quarter, the contest was all but over, with the 3-0 margin finally seeing them crowned deserved champions.

 

“Walking into the changeroom before the game I saw a couple of nervous faces,” admitted Cavemen captain Rassie Pieterse afterwards. “But we said a few nerves aren’t a bad thing. We got ourselves into the final so all we could do was play our socks off and our hearts out. It’s a great bunch of guys – really a brotherhood. That’s what the Cavemen are about and it really showed again this year.

 

“Winning the tournament back to back – I can’t be prouder. It shows a lot of character and it also shows a lot of character coming off the field and not conceding a goal. It’s one thing we worked on very hard – we went for the motto ‘defend to win’ and there’s nothing more we could have asked for,” added Pieterse.

 

“I’m just so chuffed lifting that trophy again – it’s such a beautiful trophy.”

 

Meanwhile, having dominated the first two weekends of PHL action and then suffering two consecutive losses to be relegated to the bronze-medal playoff, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunters, managed to bounce back with one last victory. There was only one goal in it, but the defending champions were determined to secure that third spot. Izelle Venter’s 45th minute goal from a penalty corner made sure of the 1-0 win over the Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies.

 

There was no such joy for last year’s men’s runners up, the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants, though. Having scraped through to the playoffs after only two group game wins, they suffered a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Cavemen in yesterday’s semifinal. Then playing for the men’s bronze today, they were handed another loss. This time it was a closer affair. They found themselves 2-0 down against the Mapungubwe Mambas by the ninth minute, after goals from captain Owen Mavimbi and Greg Last. And while they managed to finally get one back, via Andrew Manson off a penalty corner in the third quarter, they just couldn’t find the equaliser and had to settle for fourth place after the 2-1 loss.

 

 

Results

12 December 2017

 

Women’s final:

Orange River Rafters 3-2 (shoot-out) Private Property St Lucia Lakers

 

Men’s final:

Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 3-0 ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons

 

Women’s bronze medal match:

Tivoli Blyde River Bunter 1-0 Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies

 

Men’s bronze medal match:

Mapungubwe Mambas 2-1 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants

Rhett Halkett and Celia Evans have been named the country’s best men’s and women’s hockey players for 2016. The duo were among the award winners announced today by SA Hockey in Johannesburg.

 

Halkett and Evans emerged as the standout players during the annual Cape Town Private Property Summer Series from January to March 2016, as well as the men’s series against Spain, Belgium, Canada and Germany and the women’s against India, Germany and Scotland.

 

“It’s a huge honour to receive this award,” said Halkett. “Thank you to the players who have been instrumental in providing a platform for personal growth and performance. It is, and always will be, a privilege to represent South Africa in this sport we love. Congratulations to all the award winners,” he added.

 

Evans said: “This award is a symbol of hard work, dedication and commitment. I definitely don’t think I’m the only player who is committed to the process, but it is a true honour to receive this award. 

 

“Being part of the national team means more than just receiving a test cap, more than just being a ‘good’ hockey player, more than having fans or Instagram followers. I’m not about that. It means that every day I am committed to being better,” she added. 

 

Recently retired international umpire John Wright was named the joint winner of the Malik Umpire of the Year award with Michelle Joubert. Both did the country proud in umpiring the respective men’s and women’s finals at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year. Wright was also handed the President’s award in recognition for the role he played in steering the ship with regards to umpiring in South Africa.

 

“I am humbled by all the support and acknowledgement us as officials have received,” said Joubert. “I never imagined that I would be appointed to any final, let alone an Olympic final, and to make it even more special, was to have John appointed to the men's final.  It can sometimes be tough out there, but knowing that somewhere I may have inspired someone else to pick up a whistle, means more than any award to me.

 

“Thank you to SAHA for this award and acknowledging our efforts as officials and congratulations to John also for sharing it with me.”  

 

Sheila Brown received the Paul Richards Technical Official of the Year award for the role she played as tournament director at the Rio Olympics. Meanwhile, Lindsey Wright was handed the Steve and Linda Jaspan Trophy for Coach of the Year for leading her Northern Blues team to the 2016 IPT title and claiming the inaugural women’s Premier Hockey League title with the Blyde River Bunters.

 

CEO of SA Hockey Marissa Langeni congratulated all the award winners, saying: “The awards represent the celebration of our players, coaches and technical officials who continually keep the SA Hockey brand alive. They have represented the country on the biggest possible stages and done us proud and our congratulations go out to all the winners. Our sincere thanks also go to our sponsors – Private Property, Tsogo Sun, Grays, Old Mutual iWYZE, BrandSA, Crossroads, CTM, SuperSport and Sport and Recreation SA - for supporting the #SAHockeyRevolution.”

 

 

SA Hockey awards 2016

 

President’s Award: John Wright

 

John Marquard Senior Men’s Player of the Year: Rhett Halkett

Ros Howell Snr Women’s Player of the Year: Celia Evans

Lennie Botha U21 Men’s Player of the Year: Alex Stewart

Sheila Brown U21 Women’s Player of the Year: Marizen Marais

Peter Vieyra U18 Boys Player of the Year:  Andrew Hobson

Dave Carr U18 Girls Player of the Year:  Hannah Pearce

 

 

Malik Umpire of the Year: John Wright and Michelle Joubert

Stuart McIldowie Award for service to umpiring: Peter Wright

Paul Richards Technical Official of the year: Sheila Brown

Steve and Linda Jaspan Trophy for Coach of the Year:  Lindsey Wright

It was a day for the underdogs as the Premier Hockey League reached the semifinal stage in Johannesburg today.

 

After a tournament of turnarounds, the teams that finished bottom of both the men’s and women’s logs in 2016 booked their places in the 2017 final, to be played at the Randburg Astro tomorrow. The Orange River Rafters will face the Private Property St Lucia Lakers for the women’s title and the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons will take on the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen for the men’s honours.

 

The Rafters barely made it into the semifinals. They had to pull off a remarkable bonus-point victory over the defending champions, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunters, in their last group game yesterday and then still relied on other results to go their way. But, taking on the same opponents in today’s semifinal, they once again produced an upset of note – rising from bottom place in 2016 to a guaranteed top-two spot and an unlikely shot at the title.

 

It was a tight first half, with the Bunters looking far better than they did during their 3-0 loss to the Rafters yesterday, and the scoreboard remained untouched by half time. It was then Donna Small who found the back of the net early in the third quarter to give the Rafters the lead, and it’s one they never relinquished. Captain Sulette Damons slotted in a second early in the fourth quarter to seal the 2-0 win – and take her to the top of the tournament’s goal-scorers list.

 

While the Bunters brought on a kicking back with seven and a half minutes to go, it was no avail as the defending champions could not find the elusive goal they sought.

 

“We said that the hardest thing to do is to beat a team twice and after we beat them yesterday we knew it was going to be tough because they’d come out firing,” said Small afterwards. “We believed that we could do it. We’re just lucky that we stuck together, stuck to the structure, and we pulled it off so we’re really stoked about that.”

 

Describing her goal, the striker added: “Oh my goodness – I think my eyes were closed the entire time. I just saw the ball coming across and put my stick out there and I was just lucky to get it I think. It was really important though. To score the first goal gave us confidence. But anyone could have scored it. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

 

Speaking about taking on the St Lucia Lakers in tomorrow’s final, Small said: “We lost to them in our first game. But I think we’ve learnt a lot throughout the whole process of PHL – and they have too so I think it’ll be completely different teams. Same people but better structures, so we’re excited to play them and hopefully pull out a win there too.”

 

The Lakers booked their spot in the final with a 2-0 win over the Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies in their semi, thanks to goals from Kara Botes and Tiffany Jones.

 

“It’s a great feeling. We really worked so hard and I’m just so proud we’re into the final,” said 17-year-old Bianca Wood afterwards. “I think we just came out with a lot more energy and we knew we had to win and wanted it more. We really showed our potential and used our chances.”

 

Meanwhile, in the men’s competition the Dragons continued their rapid rise from being last year’s wooden spoon recipients with an impressive 5-2 win over the Mapungubwe Mambas in their semifinal. The Dragons went 4-0 up before the Mambas could register a goal, and with that cushion already safely in place by half time, they were never really troubled.

 

Coach Sihle Ntuli said afterwards he was not surprised by the massive win.

 

“For us internally in the group – this is really what we believe we deserve. Last year hurt coming sixth. Like I’ve said before, when we look at all our games, even last year, our stats were always in our favour but we haven’t been able to convert our chances so for this to happen today in the way that it has – we hope that we can continue that into tomorrow and finish off what’s been a good three weeks for us.”

 

Speaking about taking on the Cavemen in the final, Ntuli added: “The Cavemen are defending champions obviously. They’ve got a lot of experience. I know some of the more experienced guys have picked up a couple of niggles but I’m sure they’ll get onto the park tomorrow and add value. If you look across the field, they’ve got senior players in all the different lines so they’re a very well-balanced team and as we all know, a big threat on short corners so it’ll be a difficult game.”

 

The Cavemen continued their march to defending their title by handing the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants a humiliating 6-1 defeat, in a repeat of last year’s final. A hat-trick from Lance Louw did much of the damage with Cerezo Comerasamym, Hendy Seerane and Michael Abrahams scoring the other goals for the 2016 champions.

 

 RESULTS

11 December 2017

 Private Property St Lucia Lakers 2-0 Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies

ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons 5-2 Mapungubwe Mambas

Orange River Rafters 2-0 Tivoli Blyde River Bunters

Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 6-1 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants

 

 

FIXTURES

12 December 2017

1pm: Woen’s bronze playoff: Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies v Tivoli Blyde River Bunters

3pm: Men’s bronze playoff: Mapungubwe Mambas vKilimanjaro Addo Elephants

5pm: Women’s final: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v Orange River Rafters

7.30pm: Men’s final: ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons v Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen

 

Photos by Marcel Sigg

 

Photos by Marcel Sigg 

 

The Tivoli Blyde River Bunters suffered their first defeat of the Premier Hockey League in Johannesburg today. And it came at the unlikely hands of last year’s women’s wooden spoon recipients – the Orange River Rafters.

 

But apart from slightly denting their confidence, it did nothing to affect the outcome of the Bunters’ progress to the playoff stages of the competition, nor their position at the top of the log.

 

It was yet another remarkable result for the Rafters, defeating the defending women’s champions 3-0 to earn themselves an all-important bonus point, which was necessary for a place in tomorrow’s semifinals. They also had to rely on the Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies beating the TopT Madikwe Rangers later in the afternoon to go through.

 

That match went straight to a shootout after a thunderstorm played havoc with the afternoon’s fixtures. And the Daisies duly played their part, winning the shootout 3-1 of knock the 2016 runners-up out of the tournament.

 

Earlier, goals from Sulette Damons, Jackie Scheepers and Chane Hartel were what did it for the Rafters, who have had an up-and-down tournament so far, but have managed to win when it counted.

 

Speaking about inflicting a first defeat on the Bunters, Damons said: “It feels great and gives us a lot of confidence going into the semis. Everyone just played freely and did what they needed to do and that’s in the end what gave us the victory. We kept fighting and moved the ball more and everyone just kept believing.”

 

A visibly upset Bunters (and SA national) captain, Nicolene Terblanche, said: “We didn’t play well today so we didn’t deserve the win. Credit to the Rafters – they definitely deserved it.”

 

The Bunters will face the Rafters once again, in tomorrow’s semifinal.

 

Meanwhile, the men’s defending champions, the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen head into the semis in scorching form. They will take on the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants in their semifinal in a repeat of last year’s gold-medal match.

 

The Cavemen’s only loss of the tournament was in a rain-affected match against the Garden Route Gazelles on the opening weekend that went straight to a shootout. But today, they produced a characteristically impressive performance to beat the Mapungubwe Mambas 2-0, with goals coming from Chad Futcher, off a penalty corner in the sixth minute, and Cerezo Comerasamy just before the end of the third quarter.

 

With both teams already through to the semis before the match started, the only factor riding on the result was which one would finish top of the men’s log.

 

“It was hugely important to top the group and go into the semis with some confidence,” said Cavemen coach Mark Sanders afterwards. “There are no easy games in the next round but the team coming in fourth is under a bit more pressure than the team finishing second or third so we’re happy to fight from the top of the log.

 

“I think the Elephants are a side coming into form but so are we, so I think it’ll be tough. I think the extra day’s rest they’ve had will put them in some good areas. There’s still a load of things for us to work on like being clinical in the circle. We’re creating a lot of opportunities but not taking as many as we’d like. Defensively we’ve still got to manage certain pressure areas and I think we’ll be better.”

 

The ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons finished in third spot on the log after the Garden Route Gazelles beat them 4-2 in another straight-to-shootout match because of the thunderstorm. The Dragons will play the Mambas in Monday’s other men’s semifinal. The struggling Gazelles went into the match needing an unlikely 11-goal winning margin if they were to make it to the semis.

 

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s other women’s semifinal will be contested between the Daisies and the Private Property St Lucia Lakers. The Lakers found themselves two goals down against the Wineland Wings after Tarryn Glasby and Liné Malan found the back of the net. But goals from Erin Hunter and Tiffany Jones levelled the scores at 2-2 and the Lakers eventually won the resulting shootout 2-1.

“We definitely started off slowly and we kept trying to encourage each other to light that fire that we know we have,” said Lakers captain and player of the match Shelley Jones. “It took a little while – I don’t think our gas burners were quite turned on yet. We eventually switched them on in the second half, which we’re kind of known for. We seem to score most of our goals in the third and fourth quarters so we knew if we just persisted with what we were doing, we’d hopefully come back and that’s what we did, which was great”

 

 

 

 

Results

10 December 2017:

 

Private Property St Lucia Lakers 2-2 (2-1 shootout) Wineland Wings

Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 2-0 Mapungubwe Mambas

Tivoli Blyde River Bunters 3-0 Orange River Rafters

Garden Route Gazelles 4-2 (shootout) ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons

Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies 3-1 (shootout) TopT Madikwe Rangers

 

 

Fixtures

11 December 2017:

 

12pm: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies

2pm: Mapungubwe Mambas v ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons

4pm: Tivoli Blyde River Bunters v Orange River Rafters

6pm: Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen v Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants

 

 

Final log standings

Men:

  1. Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen
  2. Mapungubwe Mambas
  3. ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons
  4. Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants
  5. Garden Route Gazelles
  6. Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators

 

 

Women:

  1. Tivoli Blyde River Bunters
  2. Private Property St Lucia Lakers
  3. Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies
  4. Orange River Rafters
  5. TopT Madikwe Rangers
  6. Wineland Wings

 

Photos by Marcel Sigg

 

The Cavemen, Dragons, Mambas and Bunters have all secured their spots in the semifinals of the Premier Hockey League. But it was the TopT Madikwe Rangers who were breathing some of the biggest sighs of relief after securing a crucial win over the Private Property St Lucia Lakers to keep their playoff hopes alive.

 

It certainly wasn’t a convincing victory – a 1-1 scoreline at the end of full time taking it to a shootout which they won 3-1 – but that didn’t bother coach Tsoanelo Pholo, whose team were simply after the three points.

 

“It was never going to be pretty, but we’re not here for pretty. We’re here for results,” said the relieved coach after the match.

 

“We had to score the one to equalise but there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to score today. And I think we have the best goalkeeper [Anelle van Deventer] at shootouts in the tournament. That’s one little trick we have in our arsenal. We don’t really want to use it all the time though, but three points is what we came here for and three points is what we got.”

 

The Rangers’ only other win of the PHL so far has also come from a shootout, and this time they had to do it without the services of the hugely experienced national player, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a back injury.

 

“Those are huge shoes to fill but I think Kerry Pearton, who came through late last night as a replacement did a really good job. I’m really happy with how we could pull off what we needed to do,” added the coach.

 

There was also relief for the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants. The 2016 runners-up have been struggling this year but managed to beat the Garden Route Gazelles 4-0 in their final group game to preserve their hopes of reaching the playoffs. Their progress will all depend on whether the Gazelles can pull off a colossal, bonus-point win against the Dragons on Sunday.

 

Meanwhile, former SA captain Austin Smith was starting to think he may be an unlucky charm for his ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons team. But that was all put right after his side handed the Mapungubwe Mambas their first defeat of the tournament. The Dragons’ 2-1 win also booked last year’s men’s wooden spoon winners an all-important semifinal spot with one match in hand.

 

“It’s great. I was a little bit worried because the guys did so well without me on the first weekend, getting two wins and then we lost last weekend. I was starting to worry that I was the common denominator but we did well today. It was tough but it’s really great to start the weekend off well.”

 

Smith scored from a penalty corner in the sixth minute to take the Dragons 1-0 up, but early in the second half Ross Gozalves found the equaliser for the Mambas, who were playing without ace goalkeeper Richard Curtis, Jarryd Jones and Rusten Abrahams, who have all been called up to the SA indoor hockey team. It was then Gareth Heynes who slotted in the winner for the Dragons, who have also lost SA player Jethro Eustice to the national indoor team.

 

“I thought our structure was better than theirs today,” explained Smith. “We created more circle opportunities than they did. We haven’t scored a field goal in the last two games so maybe that’s an area we can work on, but as long as we’re scoring and winning, we don’t really mind how it goes in.”

 

Later in the day, the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen displayed their dominance once again in an impressive 6-2, bonus-point victory over the Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators, who have now been ruled out of the playoffs after only managing one win so far and no more games to play.

Interestingly, the tournament’s top two goalscorers so far, Courtney Halle on five and Connor Beauchamp on four, are both from the Gladiators team, but they’ll play no further part in the 2017 PHL.

 

Eventual man of the match, Miguel da Graca, managed to hit the goalposts on four occasions before finally slotting one in to add to his team’s total and said afterwards: “I hit four on the bar and the fifth one finally went through the keeper’s legs. I thought if I go straight it’ll miss the posts so it was good to finally get one.”

 

The Cavemen were without their top scorer, Ricky West, who was nursing an injury, as well as captain and goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, but still managed to dominate throughout the game and the result means the defending champions are now top of the log.

 

“It was a good win for the guys and it was one of those games where we needed the three points to make sure we secured the semifinal. That job was done today while resting some of our big guns. They’ve had a few injuries so they were rested today but they’ll be good to go from tomorrow,” explained Da Graca.

 

Later in the day, in a bottom-of-the-log battle between the Wineland Wings and the Orange River Rafters, it was the Wings who managed to secure their first win of the tournament with a 3-2 victory.

 

Results:

9 December 2017

 

ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons 2-1 Mapungubwe Mambas

TopT Madikwe Ranger 1-1 (3-1 SO) Private Property St Lucia Lakers

Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 6-2 Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators

Wineland Wings 3-2 Orange River Rafters

Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants 4-0 Garden Route Gazelles

 

 

Fixtures:

10 December 2017

 

8am: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v Wineland Wings

10am: Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen v Mapungubwe Mambas

12pm: Orange River Rafters v Tivoli Blyde River Bunters

2pm: ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons v Garden Route Gazelles

4pm: Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies v TopT Madikwe Rangers

Photo by Marcel Sigg 

There’s an intriguing weekend of action ahead as the Premier Hockey League heads into the final round of games before the playoffs. And one man who will be watching the log very carefully will be coach of the SA men’s under-21 side, playing as the Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators, Garreth Ewing.

 

His side pulled off the most dramatic comeback of the tournament so far last Sunday when they came back from 0-3 down to beat the Garden Route Gazelles 6-3. The Gladiators are currently fourth on the log, and as it stands, that would mean a semifinal spot, but with only one game to play this coming weekend, anything could happen.

 

“I think that a lot is going to happen before the semifinalists are decided,” reckoned Ewing. “We only have one game to play this weekend, which might count against us. All the results will have an impact on the table for all the teams. It’s going to change game by game and possibly one or two results might work in our favour. Who knows what pressure will do?”

 

The Gladiators face the tough task of taking on the defending champions, the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen, in their final game, but confidence is high after last weekend’s performance. “Our team focus won’t change, beyond improving on last weekend’s performances and trusting in our process against a very strong Cavemen team,” explained the coach. 

 

“I think we can definitely beat them, but I’m extremely respectful of their experience and balance. It will be a tough game but a very good opportunity for the young Gladiators to continue to learn about playing in pressure situations.”


Speaking about the Cavemen, who are currently second on the log after a rained-out match went straight to a shootout, which they lost to the Gazelles, Ewing added: “It was no surprise to me when they won the tournament last year. They have key players right up the middle of the field and they have a strong offensive and defensive PC. I think they have a handle on their defensive game which will make them hard to break down.” 

 

The young Gladiators will surely believe that anything is possible after last Sunday though. Describing what changed in his team to be able to turn around the deficit, Ewing explained: “3-0 wasn’t a comfortable place for us. We shared a few stern words at half-time, but we focused on playing to the shape we had agreed upon before the game, and making sure that we stopped leaking goals due to errors. 

 

“The biggest shift the players made was committing to passing the ball instead of becoming individuals when under pressure. This really raised our tempo and then things started to flow. It was also, I think, an indication of the team’s character and the pride they have in their performance that they found an extra gear. I was thrilled at the way they responded and they played some beautiful hockey at times.

 

“Our whole process, with there being a longer-term goal of being successful at the Junior World Cup in 2019, has been about performing and growing rather than getting results. In terms of team growth there is a lot to feel encouraged about, but we need to ask how we got ourselves to 3-0 down in the first place.

 

“The key for us is to now believe that we can compete against older players with more experience, and to make sure we start games better. The team is very upbeat after the game, however, and it will help our confidence a great deal going into the last weekend.”

 

Fixtures:

Saturday, 9 December

8am: ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons v Mapungubwe Mambas

10am: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v TopT Madikwe Rangers

12pm: Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen v Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators

2pm: Wineland Wings v Orange River Rafters

4pm: Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants v Garden Route Gazelles

 

Sunday, 10 December

8am: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v Wineland Wings

10am: Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen v Mapungubwe Mambas

12pm: Orange River Rafters v Tivoli Blyde River Bunters

2pm: ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons v Garden Route Gazelles

4pm: Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies v TopT Madikwe Rangers

 

Photo by Marcel Sigg

 

He may have been on the other side of the field, but goalkeeper and captain of the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen, Rassie Pieterse thoroughly enjoyed the unique goal celebration at the opposite end.

 

With just a matter of seconds on the clock, Thabang Modise had just slotted in the third goal for the defending champions to seal a 3-0, bonus point victory over the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons at the Premier Hockey League in Johannesburg on Sunday.

 

What followed was an intricate, hand-waving performance that certainly had the crowd entertained.

 

“The stick becomes the fire because we’re Cavemen and we’re heating ourselves up by the fire,” explained Modise with a smile. “I’ve got new ones coming for you – but I can’t tell you what they are – it’s a surprise,” he added.

 

“We only see the fist pump of Ricky West these days so it was nice to see some of the others scoring goals and getting the celebrations going,” joked Pieterse. “It’s awesome to see that energy coming through there.” There was certainly plenty of energy on the field as West and Chad Futcher scored the other two goals and the Cavemen then threw everything into their defence to keep the Dragons out.

 

“I haven’t seen the stats yet but I’m sure they had a lot of circle and 25 entries so it was a huge defensive effort from us to stop a team like this,” said Pieterse.

“My decision-making is so much easier when the guys are marking tightly at the back and I think a lot of balls were played straight at me so I got a little bit lucky today but of course, any goal keeper will enjoy a clean sheet so I’ll take that with me and use it as a bit of confidence for next weekend.”

 

Another keeper who enjoyed a clean sheet was the Mapungubwe Mambas’ Richard Curtis, who has only allowed one goal past him in the entire tournament. He was once again in top form as his team defeated the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants 1-0 to add to the 2016 runners-up’s woes.

 

“The team is playing really well, defending with 11. That’s the mindset we had – we’re not going to try and score goals, we’re going to defend as much as we want to score, and build on that platform.

 

“It’s a massive result for us going forward in the competition. I think we’re on 11 points from three games so we’re looking forward to next week,” added Curtis, whose side are currently top of the log and face both the Cavemen and Dragons next weekend.

 

Meanwhile, the iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies pulled off their second last-gasp win of the tournament by beating the Wineland Wings 2-1. After an extremely tight game, the teams were still locked at 0-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Daisies were first to score, thanks to Charne Maddocks but the Wings, having brought on a kicking back, came back at them just two minutes from time. Then, with 10 seconds left on the clock, the under 21s earned a penalty corner, which Steph Botha duly converted for the win.

 

“We didn’t expect to come back, we got the goal and I was celebrating like mad. My heart rate was quite high,” admitted Botha afterwards. “It was quite tough – they kept on coming and coming but we were like a brick wall and didn’t let them through. Unlucky that they eventually got their goal but then we stepped up and scored one back.”

 

Coach Robin van Ginkel added: “It was always going to be a tight one. For both teams it was a really important one to win to try to secure a semifinal so I think there was a lot riding on it. It was always going to be competitive – maybe not that nail-biting – but always competitive.

 

“As a young group I think they’re really listening to the game plan and executing it, which is keeping us in the game, and well done to the defence today. They’re a young group and learning quickly. There’s lots of talent, maybe not as much experience yet but the talent and their desire to win definitely makes up for a lot,” added Van Ginkel, whose team now head into a national under-21 team training camp ahead of next weekend’s matches.

 

Later in the day, in a repeat of last year’s women’s final, the defending champions, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunter continued their dominance, beating the TopT Madikwe Rangers 1-0. Celia Evans, back in the team after missing out last weekend through illness, was the goal-scorer for the Bunters in the 50th minute.

The iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators, meanwhile, produced a remarkable run of six unanswered goals to come back from a 0-3 deficit and claim their first win of the tournament – a 6-3, bonus point victory over the now bottom-of-the-log Garden Route Gazelles.

 

PHL action continues at the Randburg Astro next weekend, before the teams head into the playoffs on 11-12 December.

 

 

Results

3 December 2017

 

Mapungubwe Mambas 1-0 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants

iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies 2-1 Wineland Wings

Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 3-0 ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons

Tivoli Blyde River Bunters 1-0 TopT Madikwe Rangers

iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators 6-3 Garden Route Gazelles

SA Hockey Sponsors, Partners and Affiliations