Exciting finale at All Stars

2011-07-02 00:00

THE first round of the All Stars Men’s Hockey Series between the Brothers Sport Braves and the iTrainer Warriors produced thrilling encounters in Durban this week.

The Braves won the four-match series, which featured the top 30 men’s players in the country, 3-1, but the Warriors came back with a victory in the third match during the SA U18 Boy’s Interprovincial at Kearsney College. Their win set up an exciting finale at Riverside Sports Club in Durban North on Wednesday.

Former Maritzburg College midfielders Shaun Davenhill and Taine Paton scored the goals as the Braves went into a 2-0 lead at the break. The Warriors hit back with a series of shots at goal after the changeover, but keeper Jacques le Roux was in fine fettle.

Last week the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the series thanks to a penalty stroke from former PMB Varsity striker Craig Haley, and in the next encounter national captain Austin Smith’s team prevailed again. The Warriors won the third encounter 3-1 and were confident of sharing the series, but it was not to be.

The close encounters suggest that SA head coach Gregg Clark, convenor of selectors Mike Bechet, who is the Maritzburg College coach, and the rest of the panel have much to think about ahead of naming the 18-man team for the Olympic Games qualifiers and Champions Challenge tournaments later this year.

The goalkeeper of the series was Western Province’s Jacques le Roux; the players of the series were the captains of each side, Northern Blues’ Justin Reid-Ross (Warriors) and WP and SA skipper Austin Smith (Braves); while an exciting newcomer to the senior national set-up, DHS Old Boy and current SA U19 midfielder Grant Robertson, gave notice that he will be challenging strongly for inclusion in the big tournaments that are just months away.

The series captured the imagination of the public and the media, and looks to be a concept that deserves to be developed. All Stars II is scheduled for later in the season during the SA Masters Interprovincial Tournament in Gauteng.

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