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Western Province claims back-to-back SASHOC National Week titles

By Avuyile Sawula , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-06-21 Tags: ,

The Western Province u18A team celebrating their SASHOC National Week win. Photo credits: TeamPhotoSA.
The Western Province u18A team celebrating their SASHOC National Week win. Photo: TeamPhotoSA.

In a highly anticipated all-Western Cape derby, it was the Western Province u18A side that reigned supreme against a highly motivated Boland A team to claim the SASHOC National Week title in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Province secured a 3-2 win to retain the title they won in 2023. They also ended their campaign unbeaten to, once again, match the feats of last year’s champions.

For Boland, the defeat means their nine-year wait for a SASHOC National Week title continues. In 2023, they finished fourth.

Relive all the action on SuperSport Schools.

The teams’ journeys to the final were quite similar. Coach Bryce West‘s Western Province and coach Jacques Grobler‘s Boland were both drawn in Pool A, along with Border A, Western Province B, Southern Gauteng B, and KZN Coastal B.

Both breezed through the pool stage, with Province beating Boland 5-0 when they met on the second day of the tournament.

That handful of goals contributed to Province’s 30 goals during the week, with 18 of those coming from the field. They also converted 11 penalty corners and a single penalty stroke, which was scored by Litha Kraai.

The final started quietly, with neither team scoring in the first chukka. In the second, though, Ethan Lee put Province ahead

Lee, from Wynberg Boys’ High, had a quietish tournament but he stepped up when his team needed him the most. After latching onto a scrappy ball inside the circle, he found himself with some time and space and he made no mistake, dispatching the ball into the back of the net.

Minutes later, James Grieve took the attack to Boland down the right flank. He, then, picked out Litha Kraai. The SACS’ star dribbled past a couple of players before depositing the ball into the goalbox to make it 2-0.

Boland’s Reuben Sendzul cut the deficit to one at halftime after executing a thunderbolt of a penalty corner drag flick, much to the joy of the travelling Bolanders in the stands.

The third chukka was extremely competitive as coach Grobler’s Boland team upped their challenge, with Michael Du Toit, Matthew Temmis, and Christo Swanepoel becoming more influential.

With just under 11 minutes to play in the final chukka, Boland levelled matters at 2-2 to set up a tense finish.

Western Province's Litha Kraai surrounded by several Boland players in the final of the SASHOC National Week final. Photo credits: TeamPhotoSA
Western Province’s Litha Kraai was surrounded by several Boland players in the final of the SASHOC National Week final. Photo: TeamPhotoSA

However, it was that man, Kraai, who once again came to his side’s rescue.

For his second of the match, he struck with a well-calculated drag flick with only four minutes remaining to put Province ahead again.

There was a dramatic ending to the clash, with Boland being awarded a penalty corner with 54 seconds to play.

Their injection was good, the stop, though, was not the best, and Sendzul’s shot went wide, causing goalkeeper Noah Venter no problems.

Province held onto the ball in the dying seconds to clinch the win.

“We went 2-0 up, and there were big moments in the game. We attacked for a long period, had to defend, and then gave a PC away, and Reuben Sendzul scored,” West told SuperSport Schools Plus after the title-decider.

“We had our opportunities in the third chukka, and if we had slotted them, we could’ve buried the game.

“But credit must go to Boland. They fought and didn’t give up. We knew they were going to fight until the end. That’s how they set up and how they play

“I’m also happy about the big character shown by my guys. We made the call at the final PC, that we had to make it count, and Litha did the job.”

Western Province’s triumph means the side from Cape Town has now won the national title four times on the trot.

West credited the pool of talent and the culture which Western Province hockey has worked hard to cultivate over the years for their successes.

“I think there’s a lot of talent around the country, but what sets us apart is the culture and the family we have in the group,” he explained.

“As Steph (captain Stephan Meyer), said, we are a family that’s known each other since 12 or 13 years old.

“Even though the boys are at opposing schools, when it comes to Province, we become one. We don’t have internal battles. We play for each other and the badge.”

Final Scorers

Western Province 3 (2): Litha Kraai (2), Ethan Lee. Boland 1 (2): Reuben Sendzul (2)

Day 6 | Results

Western Province A 3-2 Boland A (1st/2nd)
KZN Coastal A 1-0 Southern Gauteng A (3rd/4th)
KZN Inland 3-0 Southern Free State A (5th/6th)
Southern Gauteng B 1-0 KZN Coastal B (7th/8th)
Eastern Province 1-0 Northern Gauteng A (9th/10th)
Western Province B 5-4 Border A (11th/12th)

Final Standings

Western Province
KZN Coastal A
Southern Gauteng A
KZN Inland A
Southern Free State A
Southern Gauteng B
KZN Coastal B
Eastern Province A
Northern Gauteng
Western Province B
Border A

Avuyile Sawula