KZN schoolboy hockey: Clifton coach Keegan Pearce

Clifton School’s hockey director assesses the recent St Charles match

As reported on by Jono Cook, the Clifton College St Charles College first team clash at Riverside was entertainment and drama all in one, in keeping with a couple of KZN10 hockey epics on Saturday 18 May 2019.

Here’s Clifton School director of hockey and first team head coach Keegan Pearce’s take on the match. (Renate Monty Photos feature image)

Keegan piloted KZN Coastal to the SA U18 Interprovincial Nationals hockey title on Pape’s Astro mid-2018 so this is insight from a scholar of the game.


The Clifton team vs St Charles at Riverside. Renate Monty Photos


Over to Keegan:

Thanks Jono. St Charles certainly started on the front foot against us and characteristically pressed quite high and were very physical.

“They capitalised off our poor balls into the midfield pockets and baited us into one-v-one contests, which on most days we shy away from.

“With us struggling to connect with our frontrunners, it led to a number of double-turnovers from both teams.


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“St Charles took their opportunities and finished a great 1-2 inside the Clifton circle off a re-awarded penalty corner [PC] to go 1-0 up.

“The second half saw us change our outlet-shape in different phases and our target areas off set-16s changed, which allowed us to play around their congested midfield pressing line.

“This meant we connected better in multiple phases and our ratio of 23 entries – circle entries -increased and we started to put pressure on the St Charles players.

“That pressure lead to a few rash tackles and we capitalised on being a man up, with a few penalty corners. John Munford scored his first [PC drag] flick after an extended injury layoff and we levelled the game [1-1].


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“Another Clifton penalty corner saw Justin Wood score a brilliant second-phase goal and thereafter we weathered a few late counters [SCC attacks] to close out the game 2-1 in our favour.

“I would love to say we had a handful of standout players, but we were quite average throughout the contest on Saturday, although sporadically we saw glimpses of great hockey from a few players.

“Justin Wood is certainly a gamechanger for us and he showed his worth by scoring the second goal and managed the game a lot better in the second half.

“It is always great having the whole school come out and support us, and it creates a great atmosphere for Clifton at Riverside, which is our ‘home away from home’.


The Clifton first team hockey’s support from their schoolmates was exceptional. Renate Monty Photos


“Credit to (St Charles hockey specialist and first team head coach] Matt Coombes on his tactical implementation when pressing us; it challenged our players and we had to adapt to give ourselves a chance of fighting back to win the game.

“And credit to both the St Charles and the Clifton boys for a great hockey game.”

Jono says: Thanks for your insight Keegan.

There’s certainly no rest for Clifton as they take on DHS on both sides’ hockey home at Riverside Saturday.

We hope to hear Keegan’s summation of the Clifton DHS clash next week.



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