CTM Premier Hockey League Semi-Final picture takes shape

If the previous four days of the 2018 CTM Premier Hockey League could be themed by the goal scoring exploits of all teams, day five showed the defensive class at the tournament as less goals were scored on a tough day at the Randburg Astro.

Only one day and five matches remain in the group stages and certain teams have already qualified for the final weekend next weekend. The Orange River Rafters, the defending champions, had already qualified for the semi-finals and were joined there by the Blyde River Bunters and the St. Lucia Lakers with their victories over the Namaqualand Daisies and the Madikwe Rangers respectively.

The Bunters were workmanlike in methodically overcoming their defeat yesterday to beat the Daisies, themselves on a high from their shootout victory against the Wings yesterday. Carmen Smith got the game’s opening goal from a 39th minute penalty corner and from thereon out the Bunters managed to hold out the advances of the Daisies. The icing on the cake arrived in the second last minute of the game as Mmamoagi Kungoane settled the game once and for all.

The St. Lucia Lakers welcomed back Shelley Jones into their line-up but were once again superbly led by the defensive duo of Erin Hunter and Kara Botes. The defensive stability meant that the likes of Kristen Paton, Isabella da Rocha and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs were thwarted time after time. The Lakers needed someone to convert up the other end and Tegan Fourie, who scored a blinding drag flick yesterday, showed she is a name you really should know in SA Hockey. The Indoor international created a small pocket of space and fired into the back of the net.

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What it means for the Women’s competition is that the Madikwe Rangers, Wineland Wings and Namaqualand Daisies will fight it out for the last semi-final spot tomorrow.

The Addo Elephants confirmed their spot in the final four with an Ingatius Malgraff inspired 2-1 victory over the Cavemen in a repeat of the 2016 final. After opening the game with attacking intent the Elephants retreated into defence and allowed the Cavemen a lot of possession. As the Cavemen upped the ante at the end of the first half, Malgraff produced a sublime piece of individual skill to slice through the Cavemen backline and finish past a helpless Rassie Pieterse.

In the second half the Cavemen kept winning penalty corners, but they were unable to score from any of the 9 they won. There was a massive chance for the Elephants to settle the match, but Damian Kimfley fired over, and the Cavemen went up the other end and scored through a sliding finish from their top scorer Chad Futcher. With 30 seconds left the Cavemen were pouring forward but another moment of brilliance by Malgraff decided the game. In sliding the ball past Pieterse Malgraff collided with goal and had to be treated afterwards, but his second goal of the game and 12th of PHL history meant the Elephants stayed top and arguably favourites. The defeat left the Cavemen on 7 points.

That result meant that the Garden Route Gazelles 3-1 victory over the Mapungubwe Mambas earlier would probably be enough to make the top 4 as their goal difference is superior to the Cavemen. The Gazelles have turned around a bad opening weekend with consecutive wins. They started this morning’s game brilliantly as Connor Beauchamps fired home the early PC within 30 seconds of the game starting. Caleb Syce managed to pull Lungile Tsolekile’s Mambas level, but Clinton Panther a two-time winner with the Cavemen, re-established the lead for the Gazelles and Berne Burger settled the result. The Gazelles moving to 7 points.

The Golden Gate Gladiators knew that victory was the only way to keep their tournament hopes alive and they faced a buoyant Drakensberg Dragons side. Their task was made much harder when they got to the half-time break 1-0 down to a Richard Pautz goal. As they have done all through the tournament the Gladiators continued to fight but were unable to breakdown a Jethro Eustice inspired backline and Richard Pautz popped up a second time, his fourth of the tournament, to put the Dragons through to the Semi-Finals and to eliminate the Golden Gate Gladiators.

As it stands the Elephants and the Dragons have qualified for the semi-finals, the Gazelles are virtually through with a superior goal difference while the Cavemen will have to wait and see if the Mambas can produce a bonus point win that they need to knock the defending champions out. It all gets decided in the final group stage games tomorrow at the 2018 CTM Premier Hockey League.

CTM PHL Day 5

Saturday 18 August

08:00 – Women – Tivoli Taps Blyde River Bunters 2-0 Old Mutual iWyze Namaqualand Daisies
10:00 – Men – Elf Laminates Mapungubwe Mambas 1-3 Garden Route Gazelles
12:00 – Women – Top T Madikwe Rangers 0-1 Private Property St. Lucia Lakers
14:00 – Men – Origins Maropeng Cavemen 1-2 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants
16:00 – Men – Pro Grip Drakensberg Dragons 2-0 Old Mutual iWyze Golden Gate Gladiators

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