KZN School boy Hockey gets in to full swing
With the holidays over its time for KZN School boy hockey enthusiasts to get ready for the ding dong battles that lie ahead as the KZN10 schools battle for supremacy.
With the rather disjointed nature of the holidays this year between the government and private schools there hasn’t been any sense of continuity in the interschools competition. It has felt at times that the 2 nd term sports journey just couldn’t get going.
Don’t get me wrong playing in hockey festivals is an awesome opportunity to compete against the very best and experience different hockey styles and people. But, there is just something different about playing a full school fixture on Saturday morning, getting in the buses or meeting with your team at the home ground with everyone keyed in on wining for their school. The stands filled with mates giving you vociferous and vocal support and the sense of pride that it evokes in those that are playing, creates memories that last a life time.
On the the to the match previews
Northwood Vs Hilton College
Northwood have a good team this year and as a unit have played a whopping 21 matches together including their Malaysia tour. They started the season a bit out of sinc against Maritzburg College but have steadily got better and better as the season has progressed. Since coming back from Malaysia they have an impressive tally played 11 won 10 lost 1. The match that they did lose was against a top 10 Grey College 1st team at the KES festival but apart from that they have been a dominant unit.
Hilton College though seem to be one of the form teams in KZN whose only loss this season came at the Nomads Festival against table topping Grey high school from Port Elizabeth. They are also coming off a good St Stithians festival where they left unbeaten after the weekends matches.
At U16 level Hilton should hold the advantage as they are undefeated and ranked no 1 in the country at the moment. This impressive squad has scored 44 goals whilst conceding only 7 with an average win of 5-1.
Northwood may lack the discipline and trust to compete for a whole match with Hilton once fatigue sets in but since coming back from their Malaysia tour they have yet to lose. So its set up for Northwood to keep the game tight and leave everything out on the pitch.
At U14 Level it could go either way, Northwood drew to against Maritzburg College and DHS earlier in the season and both of which have solid squads. I get the sense that Hilton U14’s are just a little stronger even though they have lost to DHS 2-4 earlier in the season. But based upon their results at the Nomads festival they seem to have a slight advantage.
Clifton College Vs St Andrews School (Bloemfontein)
Venue: St Andrews School
Clifton are continuing to grow into a well polished, competent side and should dominate against St Andrews. After early season struggles in a loss to Michaelhouse and a tough outing at the Nomads festival the 1st side seems to have turned the corner with an impressive run of results.
The amount of matches played over the holidays has done this team a world of good and they are now playing with a high level of fluidity and confidence. Played 11 with 9 wins and 2 draws is the stat line over this period with great victories against Pretoria Boys and St Albans included.
The U16’s should also be to good for their St Andrews counterparts.
The encouraging signs though lie at the base of the Clifton College hockey tree as the next crop of great players push to come through. Its the U14’s who are really making waves at Clifton and should get everyone excited about Clifton hockey for years to come. Played 13 won 13 is the stat line and in the process scoring 90 goals for and only 2 against. Amongst their wins are a 4-0 drubbing of Western Cape hockey giant Bishops. Truly phenomenal play from this group and I expect it to continue this weekend.
Michaelhouse Vs Westville
Michaelhouse is also another team thats lacking a bit of consistency at the moment. They have just returned from the Eastern Cape after competed in the Hibbert Cup Hockey tournament held at Grey High School over Easter. The competition was stiff with the likes Grey High School, Paul Roos and Bishops all at the tournament. They were on the end of some big scores but ended up coming a credible 4th place.
Westville have cemented themselves as a top tier hockey program and their undefeated record bears testament to the hard work that has been put in. Before the Easter break they had a great win against Jeppe and then topped it off by dealing with the other joburg hockey elites KES and St johns College at the KES Hockey festival. Westville should have enough to leave Michaelhouse with a victory.
Westville U16’s have only lost one match the whole season and deservedly sit at number three in the national rankings. Michaelhouse, who hosted their own U16 ISHF showed nice touches in winning 5 from 5. The edge again lies with Westville
The U14’s from Michaelhouse and Westvilles have already played each other at the Westville U14 A Festival. The result was pretty emphatic with Westville winning 5~1, but Michaelhouse are at home this time so the tables could be turned.
Kearsney Vs DHS
Its difficult to put your finger on this Kearsney College side. After a solid start where they drew to Hilton College and St Charles College they then played some sublime hockey at the Northwood Founders festival. In compiling a 6 from 6 record it seemed that they were ready to lay down a marker as one of the teams to beat in the province(headline picture(C) Kearsney College). They then had a ordinary KES festival compared to the dizzying heights reached at the Northwood Founders but still showed nice form. They should be to much for this DHS side as a previous meeting early in the season resulted in a 9-1 win for Kearsney.
In the U16’s Kearsney should be to strong for DHS.
Its in the U14 age group where we may see some fireworks as this current U14 squad at DHS is a competent unit with only one loss this season to their name. DHS Director of Hockey Michael Baker can be proud of the work that he and his team have done in getting this group into the system. Wins against Hilton College and Westville show the quality of this years players and on balance should win against Kearsney.
St Charles College Vs Maritzburg College
Venue: St Charles College
As a 1st side St Charles College has played little compared to some other KZN10 schools so it remains to be seen how they will fair against a battle hardened Maritzburg College team.
St Charles College come into this fixture having lost only 1 game to Bishops so Matthew Coombes certainly has his men organised and playing with great pride. This should be available in bucket loads as this will be their first game on their new Astro and the boys from Harwin rd should be in full voice.
College’s season has not been a vintage one by any stretch but they do have the ability to turn on the style as they did in their last game against St Sthithians were they mauled the hosts 6-1. They have been a little inconsistent this year due to possibly inexperience in key areas of the field but are still a formidable unit.
At U16 Level College is ranked 2nd in the country and should be good enough to win.
For Saints the U14 match will give an indication as to just how good this team is. Undefeated thus far after 5 matches at the U15 ISHF they will surely be tested as to what quality they have. The College U14’s started off slowly with 3 losses early in the season at the Nomads Festival, they then followed that up with a couple of draws and could possibly have turned the corner with a 2-1 win over Pretoria Boys before the Easter break. Its sure to be a close match.