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KZN look to take lessons from Currie Cup defeat

By Avuyile Sawula , in Water Sports | Featured Water Sports | News , at 2024-03-20 Tags: , , , , ,

KZN u18 boys team after making it through to the final of the Currie Cup in East London. Picture: Shot by Shani Photography
KZN u18 boys during the Water Polo Currie Cup in East London. Photo: Shot by Shani Photography

Head coach of the u18 KwaZulu-Natal boys Water Polo team, Rob Ambler has urged his side to take lessons from their 8-6 defeat against Central Gauteng in the final of the Junior Water Polo Championships that were hosted in East London over the past weekend.

KZN was one of the standout teams during the weekend, winning all six of their matches leading up to the final.

It was however lapses of concentration and inaccuracy in the final match that saw them stumble to their first defeat of the tournament and in the process take home the silver medal.

Looking back at their campaign, Coach Ambler’s side was dominant in the round-robin matches, playing an appealing brand of water polo, which saw them become ruthless on the attack while minimizing the number of goals they conceded.

They beat every team that came across them and cemented the top spot when they edged out Western Province by 4-3 on penalties after the clash ended tied at 8-8 early on day two.

They followed that win with a 13-4 emphatic victory against the hosts, Buffalo City in the semi-finals to set themselves a date against Central Gauteng in the final.

The final was a hotly contested affair, with very little to separate the two sides, especially in the opening two chukkas. KZN stayed in the game courtesy of goals by James Pohl, Tristan Uys, and Oliver Ditz.

They were, however, outscored in the final two chukkas when Gauteng’s Karabo Mamaregane scored two late goals to seal an 8-6 win for the Gauteng side.

Reacting to his side’s performance from the weekend, Ambler said as much as it was disappointing losing the final, he was proud of how his side carried themselves throughout the weekend.

“I think our execution and communication was not good in the final,” he told SuperSport Schools at the venue.

“We kept pushing on the one side when the other side was our strongest side- and the better team won on the day, that’s sports, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

“The lead-up wasn’t great but the boys put in their graft, and we heard we were the underdogs so we love the underdogs tag – we will always come sneaking somewhere along the line.”

KZN's Max Scully on the attack during his side's 8-8 draw with Western Province at the Currie Cup in East Lodnon
KZN’s Max Scully on the attack during his side’s 8-8 draw with Western Province at the Currie Cup in East London. Photo: Shot by Shani Photography

Despite the two-point defeat in the final, Ambler still praised his side for showing true determination, and commitment in their matches, emphasizing how they exceeded his expectations.

“If you told me we would win six from six, last Friday I would’ve laughed,” he added.

“We pushed hard, I’m chuffed for my boys, and proud of them. They put in big shifts every game and had calm heads most of the time except for the final

“Otherwise, to go through like we did, and lose one game the whole tournament I’m so happy and proud of the boys.”

The KZN side will be back in action later this year during the Inter-provincial tournament set to be hosted in the same East London.

Looking ahead, Ambler says he’s happy with the depth they’ve built over the past few years in both the young, and senior ranks in the province.

“Our trails for the Currie Cup were massive, and we could’ve brought a B-side here,” the coach said.

“There is nice depth in the KZN, in both the u18 and u16 levels at the moment.

“It’s up, and onwards from here – the guys just need to put in the work, put in the effort and the success will come,” he concluded.

KwaZulu Natal’s results from the South African Junior Water Polo Championships:

KwaZulu-Natal 14-11 Buffalo City
KwaZulu-Natal 18-10 Nelson Mandela Bay
KwaZulu-Natal 12-8 Central Gauteng
KwaZulu-Natal 8(4)-8(3) Western Province
KwaZulu-Natal 22-9 Northern Tigers
KwaZulu-Natal 14-3 Buffalo City
KwaZulu-Natal 6-8 Central Gauteng

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