Top men’s hockey clubs play in prestigious event

2014-06-27 00:00

THERE is much anticipation in hockey circles around the province as the prestigious Greenfields Riverside Elite Challenge for the country’s top men’s clubs sides nears its start at the impressive Riverside Sports Club in Durban North.

The first event took place last year and it was a huge success, with crowds flocking to the club’s two hockey turfs to witness a series of top-class matches between provincial champion teams that were packed with current national and provincial stars, as well as greats from the recent past.

This year is no different and champion KwaZulu-Natal club Riverside HC alone have three players in their midst who have just come back from the South Africa men’s team’s 2014 Hockey World Cup campaign in The Hague, Holland.

Attacking striker/midfielder Taine Paton, playmaker Tim Drummond and goalkeeper Gowan Jones have all crossed swords with the best players in the world during the past month and this experience should rub off favourably on their Riverside team-mates.

Western Province Cricket Club are the WP club champions, and like Riverside and Wanderers, they will also feature current World Cup stars as well as recent national players, while fast-rising Kearsney have stellar names in their midst that include the likes of Beijing Olympian and 2006 World Cup forward Geoff Abbott.

There will be fixtures from 4.30 pm today when the KZN Coastal U16A side tackle the KZN Coastal U16B team in a pre-national U16 interprovincial tournament warm-up match before the big guns take the field with Riverside up against KZN Coastal rivals Kearsney at 6.30 pm, followed by Western Province CC against Wanderers at 8 pm.

Tomorrow will feature Wanderers versus Kearsney from 2.45 pm, before hosts Riverside take on their rivals from the Western Cape, the Western Province CC line-up, at 4.15 pm

Sunday sees the grand finalé when Kearsney face the Capetonians from WPCC at 9.30 am, before Riverside meet Wanderers at 11.30 am.

This is a round-robin tournament with the most log points after the three rounds deciding who the winners of the generous cash prize will be, yet in the tournament’s inaugural year in 2013, the last match proved to be a final anyway as Riverside edged Wanderers by a whisker.

To add to the entertainment outside the Greenfields Riverside Elite Challenge matches, there are also a host of other clashes on Riverside Hockey Club’s adjacent second synthetic turf, where junior hockey and lower league KZN Coastal encounters featuring the Riverside thirds fourths and fifths against local opponents, which will ­only serve to enhance the festive atmosphere.

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