Monday night’s Varsity Hockey semi-final between Tuks and Wits is guaranteed to be a humdinger.
In last weekend’s encounter, Tuks were only able to secure victory in the dying minutes of the game.
And Tuks head coach Guy Elliott does not expect things to be easier this time around playing against Wits at the Tuks Astro-turf venue on Monday.
‘Tuks and Wits have got a real rivalry going over the last few years where there’s never any mercy shown. Tonight’s not going to be an exception. It’s all going to boil down to which team wants it the most and can make the most of their opportunities.’
Maties, who are the only unbeaten team in the tournament, will play Northwest Pukke in the other semi-final.
The Tuks team have been on a rollercoaster ride during the last four days. On Friday night they lost 4-2 against UCT and on Saturday they went down 5-4 in a titanic battle against Maties. It meant they had to beat Kovsies on Sunday night. They did so in emphatic style, winning 8-0.
Elliott was slightly disappointed after the loss against Maties. ‘It wasn’t as if we were playing poorly; we were not making the most of our scoring opportunities. Against UCT we had 40 circle entries, but we were just not able to make them count. The biggest problem is that we battled to score from penalty corners. If we were able to do so in just 20% of the corners, we would have won both games.
It was notable that Tuks were also not able to score goals in any of the three power plays over the weekend.
Elliott admits that the only time Tuks was able to capitalise on their opportunities during the power play in the whole tournament was against Wits. ‘Tonight we need to make it count.’
On Sunday against Kovsies in the second quarter, Tuks played some of their best hockey of the whole tournament. In a blitzkrieg of 15 minutes, Ashley Kemp, Steven Paulo, Bradley Sherwood and Michael Forest (2) scored goals to give Tuks an 8-0 lead. The team did not score any goals after half-time.
In this tournament format, field goals count for two and penalty strokes one.
According to Forest, who is one of the Tuks team’s leading goalscorers in the Varsity Tournament, they consciously decided to take things a bit easier as it was important to save themselves for Monday’s semi-final.
‘Getting a convincing win against Kovsies was the confidence-booster we needed. Tonight the challenge will be to make the most of every scoring opportunity,’ he said.
Photo: Goalscorer Ashley Kemp in action, by Reg Caldecott