Photos by Marcel Sigg
He may have been on the other side of the field, but goalkeeper and captain of the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen, Rassie Pieterse thoroughly enjoyed the unique goal celebration at the opposite end.
With just a matter of seconds on the clock, Thabang Modise had just slotted in the third goal for the defending champions to seal a 3-0, bonus point victory over the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons at the Premier Hockey League in Johannesburg on Sunday.
What followed was an intricate, hand-waving performance that certainly had the crowd entertained.
“The stick becomes the fire because we’re Cavemen and we’re heating ourselves up by the fire,” explained Modise with a smile. “I’ve got new ones coming for you – but I can’t tell you what they are – it’s a surprise,” he added.
“We only see the fist pump of Ricky West these days so it was nice to see some of the others scoring goals and getting the celebrations going,” joked Pieterse. “It’s awesome to see that energy coming through there.” There was certainly plenty of energy on the field as West and Chad Futcher scored the other two goals and the Cavemen then threw everything into their defence to keep the Dragons out.
“I haven’t seen the stats yet but I’m sure they had a lot of circle and 25 entries so it was a huge defensive effort from us to stop a team like this,” said Pieterse.
“My decision-making is so much easier when the guys are marking tightly at the back and I think a lot of balls were played straight at me so I got a little bit lucky today but of course, any goal keeper will enjoy a clean sheet so I’ll take that with me and use it as a bit of confidence for next weekend.”
Another keeper who enjoyed a clean sheet was the Mapungubwe Mambas’ Richard Curtis, who has only allowed one goal past him in the entire tournament. He was once again in top form as his team defeated the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants 1-0 to add to the 2016 runners-up’s woes.
“The team is playing really well, defending with 11. That’s the mindset we had – we’re not going to try and score goals, we’re going to defend as much as we want to score, and build on that platform.
“It’s a massive result for us going forward in the competition. I think we’re on 11 points from three games so we’re looking forward to next week,” added Curtis, whose side are currently top of the log and face both the Cavemen and Dragons next weekend.
Meanwhile, the iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies pulled off their second last-gasp win of the tournament by beating the Wineland Wings 2-1. After an extremely tight game, the teams were still locked at 0-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Daisies were first to score, thanks to Charne Maddocks but the Wings, having brought on a kicking back, came back at them just two minutes from time. Then, with 10 seconds left on the clock, the under 21s earned a penalty corner, which Steph Botha duly converted for the win.
“We didn’t expect to come back, we got the goal and I was celebrating like mad. My heart rate was quite high,” admitted Botha afterwards. “It was quite tough – they kept on coming and coming but we were like a brick wall and didn’t let them through. Unlucky that they eventually got their goal but then we stepped up and scored one back.”
Coach Robin van Ginkel added: “It was always going to be a tight one. For both teams it was a really important one to win to try to secure a semifinal so I think there was a lot riding on it. It was always going to be competitive – maybe not that nail-biting – but always competitive.
“As a young group I think they’re really listening to the game plan and executing it, which is keeping us in the game, and well done to the defence today. They’re a young group and learning quickly. There’s lots of talent, maybe not as much experience yet but the talent and their desire to win definitely makes up for a lot,” added Van Ginkel, whose team now head into a national under-21 team training camp ahead of next weekend’s matches.
Later in the day, in a repeat of last year’s women’s final, the defending champions, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunter continued their dominance, beating the TopT Madikwe Rangers 1-0. Celia Evans, back in the team after missing out last weekend through illness, was the goal-scorer for the Bunters in the 50th minute.
The iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators, meanwhile, produced a remarkable run of six unanswered goals to come back from a 0-3 deficit and claim their first win of the tournament – a 6-3, bonus point victory over the now bottom-of-the-log Garden Route Gazelles.
PHL action continues at the Randburg Astro next weekend, before the teams head into the playoffs on 11-12 December.
3 December 2017
Mapungubwe Mambas 1-0 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants
iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies 2-1 Wineland Wings
Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 3-0 ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons
Tivoli Blyde River Bunters 1-0 TopT Madikwe Rangers
iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators 6-3 Garden Route Gazelles