Feast of top hockey in the city this week

2008-08-11 00:00

THE South Africa U18 boys’ hockey team enjoyed a morale-boosting 5-0 win over Durham University of England on Pape’s Astro at Maritzburg College yesterday afternoon.

The win is perfectly timed ahead of the crunch opening match of the four-Test series against their powerful Australian counterparts at the same venue from 3 pm today, for which there is no entry charge.

Victory was a fine comeback for SA after they went down 5-3 to the talented Durham men on Pape’s Astro on Sunday.

On Saturday, Durham drew 1-1 with the high-class Aussies, a day after the men from the UK had arrived from London, while the boys from Down Under are fully rested and acclimatised after spending the last week preparing for the series against SA.

Durham were clearly fatigued from their heavy schedule of three highly physical matches having just got off the plane four days ago.

Few foreigners know the game in KZN better than Durham’s legendary coach Gavin Featherstone, who mentored the South African men’s side with success up to and including the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in the U.S.

He understands only too well that, leg-weary or not, the Durham squad will have to pick themselves up both physically and mentally for another high-intensity encounter today, when they tackle the Maritzburg Varsity line-up at 5 pm on the AB Jackson GreenFields Turf.

The PMB Varsity side is virtually the KZN Midlands provincial team and even without their two major stars, player/coach Darryn Gallagher and 2007 SA Men’s Player of the Year Tommy Hammond, who are representing SA at the Beijing Olympics, the word is that they are itching to lower Durham University’s colours.

With a double-header of this quality within a few hours of each other and a meagre distance of 300 m between Maritzburg College’s Pape’s Astro and the AB Jackson GreenFields Turf just up the road on Princess Margaret Drive, it’s a prospect to savour.

“There is no entrance fee at Pape’s Astro and we welcome banners, flags and lots of vocal support for our SA U18 boys,” Maritzburg College head of marketing Graham Bennetts told The Witness yesterday.

FIXTURES

Test series — SA U18 Boys vs Australia (all at Pape’s Astro, Maritzburg College): Today, tomorrow and Thursday at 3 pm, and at 10.30 am Friday.

Durham University tour — Today: vs PMB Varsity, 5 pm, AB Jackson GreenFields Turf; Tomorrow: vs Durban North, 6.20 pm, Riverside Poligras Astro; Thursday: vs Tech Rovers, 5 pm, Riverside;

Friday: vs Madsen XI, 6 pm, Queensmead; Tuesday, August 19: vs Durban Varsity, 6 pm, Glenwood Astro.

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