‘It’s a high-profile hockey match for both schools,’ says Clifton head coach

Clifton director of hockey and first team head coach Keegan Pearce is widely respected for his bigger-picture thinking.His thoughts on the Saturday, 16 May 2018’s Durban North derby with Northwood that launches at 11.15am on the Riverside 2 turf:

“Preparation this week has been tough with the flu hitting 4 of our boys really hard,but fortunately we are at full strength for the derby barring Alex Kerr our regular centre back who has been out for over a month with glandular fever.”

Keegan has been head of hockey at Clifton for two years – it is his 2nd derby against Northwood.
“Last year we battled out a close draw and we are expecting another great match today.”

“Fortunately we get to play at home, which for us is Riverside. We are really blessed with a great group of boys at Clifton, and they have nominated this as one of their compulsories, so we are expecting over 400 boys to crowd around the Astro to cheers the 1st team lads on. ”

The Clifton hockey man will have his first team assistant coach Andrew Dunn alongside to help steer the ship.

Clifton 1st hockey team assistant coach Andrew Dunn will be supporting his head coach all the way during the Durban North derby today.

“This is undoubtedly a high profile game for both schools,” says Keegan. “Any Saturday fixture always brings with it a sense of pride and an eagerness to produce a complete team performance. Clifton are fortunate to have a large group of boys who returned to the 1st team this year, so for them they see it as an opportunity to build on last year’s performance.”

The Clifton first hockey team will appreciate every ounce of support from their schoolmates today…

As to the brand of hockey Clifton aspire to play: “Our focus this year has been on trying to manipulate space in certain pre-identified areas when we have the ball. Defensive pride and identifying our shape in counter-defence has been of high importance for us. Accountability and intensity have been focus areas at training and that understanding has filtered into our games during our down phases – and we really have absorbed pressure well.

“We have a strong PC (penalty corner) attack battery that includes two KZN U18A (drag) flickers … and we have balanced out our PC and field goals nicely, which is great to see. We defended nine PC’s in our 2nd half against a competitive Glenwood team to not concede, so hopefully our PC defence is another strong area for us today.”

Keegan has a lot of time for his opposition’s hockey: “Northwood have produced some clinical results this season, and under Bakes (Shaun Baker) they are sure to be well structured and immensely aware of their individual and team responsibilities. They have brilliant young talents and I’m sure they will bring a great game plan and intensity to today’s  encounter.

Ace Northwood shot-stopper Taine Bird will be properly tested by the Clifton College penalty corner machine.

“Bakes is an unbelievably experienced coach and Northwood have a great director of hockey in their sports staff component to consistently improve and produce results.

“KZN is blessed with talented hockey schools and every local derby is evenly contested, Today should be no different and the atmosphere at Riverside is going to be extremely special.”

Well said Keegan.

KZN10.com wishes Clifton well for today’s special occasion in Durban North and KZN hockey.

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