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Central Gauteng A end KwaZulu-Natal A’s unbeaten run

By Brad Morgan , in Water Sports | News , at 2023-12-11 Tags: ,

When the fixture list for the 2023 Schools Water Polo South Africa Inter-Provincial Tournament was released, the match of the pool stages was clear. It would be the defending champions, Central Gauteng A vs KwaZulu-Natal A, and on Monday the two teams delivered on the promise of a thrilling contest.

Around the packed pool at Grey High, the electricity in the air was tangible. This was clearly a step up from anything that had taken place in the tournament thus far.

Central Gauteng A had achieved slightly larger margins of victory than KZN A throughout the pool stages but expecting them to win based on that statistic was not a safe bet.

From the start, there was little in it and the first chukka went back and forth, with the teams ending it level. Then, in the second chukka, Central Gauteng edged 5-3 ahead before a last-second goal pulled the boys from KZN to within one of their rivals at the break.

During half-time, Gauteng coach Jon-Marc De Carvalho stressed to his charges the importance of winning the third chukka. They duly went out and turned his words into action. “We really controlled it and stopped them from scoring. We scored one or two, and we gave ourselves a buffer, which was great,” he said.

In the Central Gauteng goal, Ben Scher delivered a lights-out performance, twice saving KZN penalties at crucial times in the match, which could have swung the momentum in captain Stef Swart and company’s favour. Instead, those huge stops served to buoy the Central Gauteng spirits.

“He was on fire,” De Carvalho said. “He’s been putting in the extra graft. When a ‘keeper wants to do swims with the guys, putting in extra time, sitting in goals and asking guys to stay late after practice, [it shows his total commitment]. Doing all that extra work has made him, if not the best [goalkeeper], one of the best in this tournament.”

After watching his players rise to the occasion and deliver an excellent performance in a charged atmosphere, which brought them a 9-6 win, De Carvalho said: “They were really up for it, and I am really proud of them. It was a tough challenge. I have to give credit to KZN, they really came out hard, and I was super proud of how the boys held up. They were brilliant.”

Central Gauteng A, before the KZN A clash, had been scoring left, right and centre, overwhelming teams with their energetic, smothering defence and swift counterattacks, so it was a credit to Jason Sileno‘s boys that no Central Gauteng player managed more than two goals. Seven players made it onto the scoresheet, however. And that’s what won it for the defending champions: a complete team performance from a very fit and focused squad.

They were beaten, but KZN A will move on confident that it is a result that they could turn around if given another shot at Central Gauteng A in the playoffs; there is not much between the sides.

There was another game that caught the imagination on Monday, and it was the meeting of Nelson Mandela Bay and Western Province B.

Sunday had been a miserable day for the hosts, who lost twice, getting crushed by Western Province A and then going down to Central Gauteng B in a disappointing outing.

On Monday, though, they were up for their head-to-head with Western Province B, who entered the match as the favourites. Nelson Mandela Bay, though, had their heads in the game and their intensity was far superior to Sunday’s offering.

Neither team was able to manufacture a decisive scoring burst, which left everything to play for in the fourth chukka. As time ran down, Nelson Mandela Bay thought they had scored a winner when they edged 10-9 in front, but Province B came firing back with a quick response.

Then, with only 14 seconds left on the clock, the home team drew a loud roar out of the crowd by striking again. This time, there was no coming back for Western Province B, and Nelson Mandela Bay snatched a morale-boosting 11-10 victory.

Their scoring was spread among eight players, with Luke Mallett and Tawfiq Akomolafe both netting twice. Province B had only four scorers, with Sebastiaan White and Cosmo Enthoven beating the home team’s fine goalkeeper, Oliver Klatte, three times each.

KwaZulu-Natal B played two of the five games on the day’s schedule and bolstered their record with a 13-9 win over the Northern Tigers and a 17-3 victory against Eastern Gauteng.

Clifton College’s 2024 Head Boy, Ethan Lyne, had himself a game in the defeat of the Northern Tigers, making a real nuisance of himself in front of the net and scoring four times to go along with a steal. Alexander Kelbrick continued his strong scoring streak for the Tigers, adding another three to his impressive tally. Blake Kruger, meanwhile, scored three for KZN B in both of their victories.

In the only other match on day three, Central Gauteng B gave a good account of themselves against Pool B front-runners, Western Province, but the loaded team from the Cape came through to win 14-5, with Noah Bigara and Arkin Marais both netting thrice.

Results

KZN B 13-9 Northern Tigers

KZN B – Ethan Lyne (4), Blake Kruger (3), Jared Byleveld (2), Kyron de Kock (2), Luca di Vinceno (2)
Northern Tigers – Alexander Kelbrick (3), Stephen Adams (2), Benjamin Melville (2), Julian Olivier (1), Gerrit Wessels (1)

Nelson Mandela Bay 11-10 Western Province B

Nelson Mandela Bay – Luke Mallett (2), Tawfiq Akomolafe (2), Salmaan Abrahams (1), Zack Willimott (1), Drew Stockill (1), Nicholas Franklin (1), Daniel de Lange (1), Jono Mackenzie (1)
Western Province B – Sebastiaan White (3), Cosmo Enthoven (3), Thomas Truter (2), Mac Lecuona (2)

KwaZulu-Natal A 6-9 Central Gauteng A

KwaZulu-Natal A – Oliver Ditz (2), Warwick Field (2), Meyer Malherbe (1), Mitchell Slade (1)
Central Gauteng A – Samuel Lister (2), Connor Flinn (2), Tristan Grimett (1), Marc Smith (1), Caleb van Loggerenberg (1), Nicholas Pearce (1), Anton Arwidi (1)

Western Province A 14-5 Central Gauteng B

Western Province A – Noah Bigara (3), Arkin Marais (3), Nicholas Fall (2), Ben Rieback (2), Zack Cicero (1), Maximilian Mossop (1), Johannes Reyneke (1), Conor Melling-Williams
Central Gauteng B – Mark Hudson (1), Brogan McEwan (1), Zico Williams (1), Jack Wilkins (1), David Johnson (1)

KwaZulu-Natal B 17-3 Eastern Gauteng

KwaZulu-Natal B – Blake Kruger (3), Luca di Vincenzo (3), Mitchell Wilson (3), Marnu Koekemoer (2), Kyron de Kock (1), Jared Byleveld (1), Jack Slater (1), Josh Lortan (1), Blake Davidson (1), Ethan Lyne (1)
Eastern Gauteng – Robert Carr (1), Gabriel Cazzavillan (1), Cole Taylor (1)

Brad Morgan
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.