Sunday’s second day of the CTM Premier Hockey League championship was filled with goals at the Randburg Astro ground in Gauteng.
The action-packed men’s and woman’s tournament saw the Maropeng Cavemen and the Orange River Rafters finish with two wins on two weekends, closing the weekend with 21 goals in five games on Sunday. The Addo Elephants and Blyde River Bunters also notched up two wins in the opening weekend.
South African defensive duo Erin Hunter and Kara-lee Botes were in fine form as they helped the St. Lucia Lakers defeat the Namaqualand Daisies in their opening game.
The Lakers didn’t waste time and scored in the 10th minute through Chane Hill. As the game unfolded with possession, circle entries, penalty corners and shots on goal all ending even, it was Botes who decided the fate of the Lakers as she smashed it into the bottom left corner.
Although the Daisies managed to get one goal back, the St. Lucia Lakers had a solid victory.
Meanwhile, the Addo Elephants secured their second victory of the tournament. After finishing level on full time, they won against the Golden Gate Gladiators by edging the shootout.
This was not an easy opening day victory for the Elephants as the Gladiators gave them a tough start as they lead 2–0 within seven minutes through Matthew Roman and Wade Dollman.
It was Daniel Bell who gave the Elephants a boost which lead to a moment of brilliance by Julian Hykes as he maneuvered through two Gladiator defenders before finishing with a tomahawk goal. Four minutes later Hykes scored his fourth goal for the tournament and eighth goal of all-time, securing second place on the all-time scorers list.
The second half started much like the first with Sam Mvimbi scoring for the Gladiators in an attempt to secure a lead, but this was short lived as Andrew Manson scored for the Elephants to level the game. The game lead to a shootout where Matthew Martins saved three for the Elephants, to earn their second victory of the tournament.
‘It was quite tough going 2-0 down, but it was a big effort from the team to come through with the win in the shootouts. We are a goal-scoring team, so we knew we could get back into the game at any point and we’re happy we did that,’ said Elephants captain Miguel da Graca after the game.
The tournament also saw an intense opening quarter in the match-up between 2016 finalists Madikwe Rangers and the defending champions Orange River Rafters.
National captain Sulette Damons put the Rafters ahead with a fine finish after seeing an earlier shot saved. It was then Rangers’ poor defence which saw Lerato Mahlangu secure a goal for the Rafters.
With all the momentum going for the Rafters, the Rangers pulled one back with a goal worked between Kristen Paton and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, as the latter flicked it into the back of the net.
The Rafters re-established their 2-goal lead when Damons fired in a tomahawk shot and Kelsey Minnaar pounced at just the right second to deflect it between Mmatshepo Modipane’s legs, freezing the scoreboard till half time.
The Rangers managed to get the ball into the back of the net on two occasions in the third quarter, but both were rightfully ruled out. The fourth quarter saw the action dry up except for a few body blows. In the end, the Rafters signed off for six out of six while the Rangers suffered two defeats in the opening weekend.
‘I’m delighted for the win, we had a good first half and we did enough in the second half to keep them out when our own play dropped,’ said a delighted Rafters captain Damons.
The Maropeng Cavemen meant business and started with a blitz against the Mapungubwe Mambas. The left side of field was flooded with Cavemen domination with the likes of Rainer York, Peabo Lembethe, Cameron Mackay and Rusten Abrahams all troubling the Mambas. The Cavemen dominance reflected onto the scoreboard with Chad Futcher and Cameron Mackay both netting in the opening quarter.
They wouldn’t concede dominance despite Caleb Syce scoring one for the Mambas. Two new Cavemen put the result beyond any doubt as Lethu Thomo and Steven Paulo both netted for Mark Sanders’ men to seal a second victory and the bonus point for the defending champions. The Cavemen were impressed with the performances of Rusten Abrahams, Peabo Lembethe and man of the match Thabang Modise who had an absolute blinder.
‘I was happy yesterday, but I’m much happier today,’ said victorious captain Tommy Hammond. ‘We are missing a host of experienced players this weekend but the younger ones have put their hands up to make sure it’s no easy selection.’
In the weekend’s final game the Blyde River Bunters took on the Wineland Wings. Although the Wings were missing a host of their players to the indoor national team currently in Zimbabwe it didn’t stop them opening the score through on-form striker Tarryn Glasby, who netted her third of the tournament.
The Blyde River Bunters fought back immediately with a goal by Carmen Smith taken excellently from a rebound. In the 23rd minute Thati Segaole scored another from the penalty stroke.
These were the only goals of an eventful game which secured the Blyde River Bunters a six-point weekend as they joined the Orange River Rafters at the top of the log.
Photos: Hykes in action for the Addo Elephants (main picture) and Monique Bartsch (Madikwe Rangers) evading the attention of Donna Small and Lerato Mahlangu of the Orange River Rafters, by Sean Burke/PHL
Old Mutual iWyze Golden Gate Gladiators 3 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants 3 (Elephants won shootout 3-2)
Elf Laminates Mapungubwe Mambas 1 Origins Maropeng Cavemen 4
Private Property St. Lucia Lakers 2 Old Mutual iWyze Namaqualand Daisies 1
Tivoli Taps Blyde River Bunters 2 Ceramic Industries Wineland Wings 1
Top T Madikwe Rangers 1 Italtile Orange River Rafters 3