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Province dominates u16 Currie Cup to claim top honours

By Avuyile Sawula , in Water Sports | News , at 2024-03-27 Tags: , , , , ,

The Western Province u16 team after claiming Gold at this year's u16 Currie Cup in East London.
The Western Province u16 team after claiming Gold at this year’s u16 Currie Cup in East London.

The Western Province u16 boys’ team was the undoubted class of the field as they powered their way to the title at the Junior Water Polo Championships, hosted in East London over the weekend.

The tournament followed on the heels of the u18 competition, which saw Central Gauteng win both the boys’ and girls’ titles at the Joan Harrison Swimming Pools.

Province sprinted to the boys’ u16 title by defeating KwaZulu-Natal 22-10 in the final, while the girls’ honours went to Central Gauteng, who were pushed hard by KZN, before triumphing 8-6 in the title-decider.

On their journey to the final, coach Kwakhona Ngwanya’s Western Province side dominated their round-robin clashes, blasting through all of their opponents.

They opened with a 23-6 thumping of Nelson Mandela Bay, before claiming a 16-1 win over the hosts, Buffalo City.

In their last round-robin clash, they made light work of Eden, scoring a whopping 24 goals, while conceding only three.

Their semi-final opponents, Central Gauteng, were expected to be their toughest opposition. Coach Ngwanya’s boys, however, were not phased, and continued their prolific run, outscoring the Johannesburg team 12-3 to reach the final.

In their four matches preceding the title-decider, Province had scored a cracking 75 goals and conceded only 13.

Then, in the final, they took their game up a notch. Province was dominant from the outset, playing an attacking brand of water polo which saw them dominate ball possession and territory for large portions of the match.

They used almost every opportunity they created and thumped KZN 22-10 to take home the gold medal.

Reacting to his side’s performances during the tournament, coach Ngwanya said it was an honour for him to work with a talented and hard-working group of players.

“I’m super privileged to be leading this group. I think they are a very determined bunch of kids,” he told SuperSport Schools.

When asked about the strategy, and approach they implemented for the tournament, he said: “We just decided to stay focused from the start.

“Our mentality was that we wanted to treat every game like a final, and we respected every opponent in front of us but knew we had to play good polo.

“We didn’t take any teams lightly. We certainly did our homework on both Gauteng and KZN.

“We played Gauteng in the semifinals, and we knew the final would depend on emotions and everything. The boys didn’t underestimate KZN, and as the result reads, they duly delivered.”

Noah Reiback from Rondebosch Boys High also represented the Western Province u16 Currie Cup team in East London. Photo: Team Photo SA
Noah Reiback from Rondebosch Boy’s High also represented the Western Province u16 Currie Cup team in East London. Photo: Team Photo SA

The squad featured many players with experience of plying their trade for their first teams at Cape Town’s top schools.

Matt Fenn and James Malan were standouts for Bishops, who enjoyed an excellent season, while Rondebosch’s Boys High’s Noah Reiback shone as his team claimed the KES Water Polo Tournament title.

Coach Ngwanya said the system is producing more quality players that polo enthusiasts can look forward to watching.

“I was impressed by our centre-back, Timothy Young. He’s just come into the Bishops’ first team this year,” Ngwanya said.

“He’s tall, has a good reach on him, and scored some fantastic goals from the halfway line, and he’s a star for the future.

“Our goalkeeper, Michael Mafunda, is also one to look out for. He is a leader and could be a head boy at Bishops.

“He is just a good person to have in the cage, and his communication is great.

“Another player would be Benjamin Bigara. He comes from a good water polo family, and he is very determined,” he added.

The Western Province u16 team will return to a happy hunting ground later this year when the annual Inter-Provincial tournament is hosted at the same venue in East London from 7-11 December.

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