All Guns Blazing for CTM Premier Hockey League Finals Weekend

After 30 matches in the preliminary stages, the 2019 CTM Premier Hockey League has reached its semi-final stages. At the end of Sunday’s action, we said goodbye to four of the teams and a total of 8 remain across the Men’s and Women’s competition. On Sunday afternoon just two of these sides will be left to celebrate the title as champions of the 2019 CTM Premier Hockey League

Women

There will be a new champion in the women’s tournament as defending champions the Blyde River Bunters failed to make the knock out stages for the first time in PHL history. Looking to profit from their absence is the table topping Wineland Wings. The team, coached by Ryan Pillay, won four out of five games on their way to cementing top spot. They will be looking to the all-time PHL top goal scorer Sylvia van Jaarsveldt to keep banging in the goals while the form of Jessica Lardant and Jade Mayne has been pivotal to their run to the top. The Wings will be taking on the Namaqualand Daisies who produced a wonderful display to secure a semi-final spot in the last group game of the tournament.

The Daisies are the South African U21 side and will be incredibly happy with their performances to be in the final four. The will also be buoyed by the fact that they are the undefeated in this year’s tournament against all the final four. Mishka Ellis has been a revelation in goal while Thati Segoale, Jean-Leigh du Toit and Lezaan Jansen van Vuuren have all enhanced their reputations. Bianca Wood has been the undoubted star though, the south African capped striker netting the goal of the weekend with pure individual brilliance on Saturday.  Their group encounter ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Madikwe Rangers have twice made the final, but they will be looking to go a step further this year. Kristen Paton has been a driving force of the team consistently creating opportunities for the forward players to take advantage of. Lisa Deetlefs has continued to prove dangerous at penalty corners while Nomnikelo Veto has shown her danger in front of goal. The Rangers will take on the Orange River Rafters, the only team in the final four to have lifted the trophy before having won the title in 2017. Sulette Damons has scored the goals while the creativity has come from Charne Maddocks, Ongi Mali, Donna Small and Dirkie Chamberlain, playing in a deeper role than normal. In the group stage the Rafters won 2-1.

Men

The Men’s Tournament brings the two most successful franchises along with the 2019 juggernaut that is the Mapungubwe Mambas. The Mambas became only the second team in history to win every group game following the Cavemen in 2017 and will hope to emulate that side in picking up the crown.

The front trio of Tevin Kok, Wade Dollman and Mustapha Cassiem has produced some breathtaking hockey and some sensational goals. Owen Mvimbi has shown his astute leadership skills as the captain in a team that has an arsenal that includes Ryan Julius, Matt Brown, Ross Goncalves and Tommy Hammond. Based on what we have seen in PHL 2019 its going to take an incredible effort for someone to stop them.

That challenge will go to the Garden Route Gazelles in the semi-final. The Gazelles were the last team to make the semi-finals and join the Mambas as two teams who have never made a final. Having lost 3-2 in the group stages, the Gazelles coach Ashlin Freddy will be up with a massive task to get one over his good friend Lungile Tsolekile. If the Gazelles are to knock out the Mambas, they will need Connor Beauchamp to be at his best at penalty corner time, while in Taine Paton and Dan Sibbald they have arguably two of South Africa’s most explosive midfielders. The experience of Keenan Horne, Jonty Robinson and Lance Louw may be pivotal in deciding this match.

The other semi-final will feature the two teams to have won the Premier Hockey League. The defending champions Drakensberg Dragons will be hoping to up the ante this weekend. They feature a host of explosive strikers in Richard Pautz, Bili Ntuli, Miguel da Graca and Ignatius Malgraff and have one of SA Hockey’s favourite players, Jethro Eustice, as their skipper. The match will also feature a showdown between the two South African Hockey goalkeepers from the World Cup with Gowan Jones (Dragons) taking on Rassie Pieterse (Cavemen).

The Cavemen, who won the first two tournaments, are a very different team from the past but they still have the wily Mark Sanders in charge. Centre to their prospects will be the combinations between Cameron Mackay, Brynn Cleak and Dayaan Cassiem who troubled the Dragons in their previous meeting, while Keegan Hezlett is in some fine goal scoring form. They produced a classic 3-2 group stage game and have previously met in the final and the semi-final. It is the most played fixture in PHL history, and a classic awaits!

CTM Premier Hockey League – 02 August 2019

12:00 – (W-SF1) – Madikwe Rangers vs. Orange River Rafters
14:00 – (M-SF1) – Drakensberg Dragons vs. Maropeng Cavemen
16:00 – (W-SF2) – Wineland Wings vs. Namaqualand Daisies
18:00 – (M-SF2) – Mapungubwe Mambas vs. Garden Route Gazelles

CTM Premier Hockey League – 03 August 2019

10:00 – Women’s Bronze Medal Match
12:00 – Men’s Bronze Medal Match
14:00 – Women’s Final
16:00 – Men’s Final

Original Images – Marcel Sigg

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