Defending Champs Take Charge at the Premier Hockey League
Image: Monique Bartsch (Madikwe Rangers) evades the attention of Donna Small and Lerato Mahlangu of the Orange River Rafters – Photo: Sean Burke / PHL
It was a day filled with goals, 21 in just five games as the defending champions in the Men’s and Women’s tournaments, the Maropeng Cavemen and the Orange River Rafters, finished perfect weekends with two wins from two. They are joined by the Addo Elephants and the Blyde River Bunters as other teams who got two wins on opening weekend.
South African defensive duo Erin Hunter and Kara-lee Botes were in fine form for the St. Lucia Lakers as they defeated the Namaqualand Daisies in their opening game of the CTM Premier Hockey League 2018. The Daisies are a completely newly drafted team in 2018 having previously played as the South African Under 21 side in PHL 2016 & 2017.
The Lakers could not have asked for a better start as they went ahead in the 10th minute through Chane Hill. It had been an even opening period and that was the story that continued to unfold for the duration of the game. With possession, circle entries, penalty corners and shots on goal all ending even, a moment of magic would decide the game and for the Lakers they found it through Kara-lee Botes. The indoor and outdoor double International took advantage of space afforded to her from a fumbled penalty corner and smashed it into the bottom left corner.
The Daisies managed to get one goal back, but it would be nothing more than a consolation when Toni Marks scored. It was a solid victory for the St. Lucia Lakers and one that would leave coach Inky Zondi feeling satisfied with the opening weekends work.
The Addo Elephants secured their second victory of the tournament twice coming from behind to finish level at full-time and to take the victory against the Golden Gate Gladiators and full points in the shootout. It was not an easy start for the Elephants on the back of their opening day victory as the Gladiators came out with a point to prove leading 2-0 within 7 minutes through Matthew Roman and Wade Dollman.
Daniel Bell started to take charge of the match in the middle for the Elephants, in one of his best performances in the PHL, and as the Elephants grew into the game they got back into it through a sensational moment of brilliance by Julian Hykes. Getting the ball out wide Hykes showed incredible hands to beat two Gladiators defenders before finishing with a superb tomahawk. It was one of the goals of the 2018 CTM PHL so far.
He was not done there and four minutes later pulled level with his fourth goal of the tournament and eighth goal of all-time putting him second on the all-time scorers list. The second half started much like the first with Sam Mvimbi scoring for Gladiators to regain the lead before Andrew Manson scored a superb goal to level the game. With no more goals the game headed to shootouts where Matthew Martins saved 3 for the Elephants to give them a second victory in 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 via the shootouts.” Shared Elephants captain Miguel da Graca after the game, “We are a goal scoring team and will always score goals, so we knew we could get back into the game at any point and we are happy we did that”
It was a frenetic opening quarter in the matchup between 2016 finalists Madikwe Rangers and the defending champions the Orange River Rafters. National captain Sulette Damons put the Rafters ahead with a fine finish after seeing an earlier shot saved. Things got even better for the Rafters 60 seconds later when Lerato Mahlangu punished poor defending from the Rangers with a clinical finish. With all the momentum going for the Rafters, the Rangers pulled one back with a superbly crafted goal between Kristen Paton and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, seeing the latter flick it into the back of the net.
The Rafters re-established their 2-goal lead when Sulette Damons, having an inspired game, fired in a tomahawk shot which Kelsey Minnaar pounced at just the right second to deflect it between Mmatshepo Modipane’s legs. It was the way the score line would remain until 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 that will leave a few bruises, but in the end the Rafters signed off for 6 out of 6 while the Rangers have it all to do after 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 Sulette 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 as the likes of Rainer York, Peabo Lembethe, Cameron Mackay and Rusten Abrahams all troubled the Mambas. The Cavemen dominance was converted onto the scoreboard early with Chad Futcher and Cameron Mackay both netted in the opening quarter.
It was a position of dominance they would not give up despite Caleb Syce getting one for the Mambas, two new drafts for the Cavemen put the result beyond any doubt as Lethu Thomo and Steven Paulo both netted for Mark Sanders men to seal the result, a second victory and the bonus point for the defending champions. The Cavemen will be particularly impressed with the performances of Rusten Abrahams, Peabo Lembethe and man of the match Thabang Modise who had an absolute blinder.
Victorious captain Tommy Hammond shared after the game: “I was happy yesterday, but I am much happier today. We are missing a host of the experienced players this weekend and the younger ones have put their hands up to make sure it’s no easy selection decision.”
In the weekends final game the Blyde River Bunters took on the Wineland Wings. The Wings are missing a host of their players to the indoor national team currently in Zimbabwe. That didn’t stop them opening the scoring through on-form striker Tarryn Glasby, who netted the third of the tournament already.
The Blyde River Bunters though showed why they have the best record of any women’s team in PHL as they fought back immediately with a goal by Carmen Smith taken excellently from a rebound. They then went ahead in the 23rd minute through Thati Segaole from the penalty stroke. It would be the only goals of an eventful game that meant the Blyde River Bunters also confirmed a six-point weekend joining the Orange River Rafters at the top of the log.
Results – Sunday 12 August 2018
08:00 – Women – Private Property St. Lucia Lakers 2-1 Old Mutual iWyze Namaqualand Daisies
10:00 – Men – Old Mutual iWyze Golden Gate Gladiators (2) 3-3* (3) Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants
12:00 – Women – Top T Madikwe Rangers 1-3 Italtile Orange River Rafters
14:00 – Men – Elf Laminates Mapungubwe Mambas 1-4 Origins Maropeng Cavemen
16:00 – Women – Tivoli Taps Blyde River Bunters 2-1 Ceramic Industries Wineland Wings