The highly anticipated clash between Westville boys High and Hilton College was about as tight as their positions in the rankings indicate. Numbers 1 + 2 and a right to claim the outright number 1 spot. A 0-0 draw most probably doesn’t satisfy the hockey lover but both teams would have taken the scoreline if given the option before the game.
Games of this magnitude come with pressure, something which seemed to affect the Hilton players a little more than Westville. During the course of the game Hilton had no less than 7 players sent off the field with green and yellow card offences.
With 3 players being sent off in the 1st chukka alone, any rhythm that Hilton College might have created was hamstrung by ill discipline. Consequently, coach Devon Van der Merwe had to a employ a very tight, compact defence for large portions of the game to plug passing lanes into the Hilton D. Credit must go to the Hilton defence, however, as they maintained their discipline and shape during these periods to keep a clean sheet.
The Hilton 1st XI as a group are capable of playing great hockey, and are a highly competitive bunch of boys but they are inclined to push the boundaries much to the ire of the officials.
That being said the Hilton team is filled with great players but in my estimation the heart and soul of this team is Cameron Pearce(featured image). The powerfully built midfielder is rock solid on the ball and plays with a determination and drive that is eye catching. His runs from midfield were difficult to contain and it was after one such run that Hilton had their best chance to score 4 minutes from time.
Westville, a player down themselves, coughed up the ball in a strong tackle from Pearce. The number 9 put his head down and drove purposefully to the right of the Westville D. With great vision he threaded a pass to an unmarked Rory Duffy to his left, unfortunately, the striker pulled his shot just wide to the left as he tried to pull it from under his feet.
Westville, themselves, got around the edges of the Hilton defence with some great running from Randal Govender and Joshua Davies but could not apply the final pass to either earn a PC or get a shot at goal. The numerical advantage handed to them seldom saw them pressured into any mistakes.
A sign of truly great player is that they seem to play the game at their own pace and are never hurried, Luke Allen of Westville is such a player. More often than one could count he relieved pressure through sheer guile and ball craftiness as he coolly and calmly dealt with the Hilton forwards.
That the game ended at 0-0 will probably leave Hilton happier of the two schools considering the disadvantage that they had. In the end its hard to gauge as to which team is better. Possibly the best way to explain the difference between the two would be one is a bit more dynamic whilst the other is more workmanlike. Both, however, are highly skilled and well coached and it will take an inspired performance to beat these two teams.
Westville and Hilton both have fixtures against perennial hockey powerhouse, Maritzburg College, in the next couple of weeks which will test these two teams.
In KZN10 world, though, we are just happy that these two top hockey schools in the country come from the province. One from Coastals, one from Inland; lets trust that these two regions meet in the finals of the Hockey IPT again highlighting the excellence of the sport in the province.