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Back You are here: Home Sports Hockey Kwa Zulu Natal Hockey: Preview-Northwood v College "The Battle for KZN"
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 11:43

Hockey: Preview-Northwood v College "The Battle for KZN"

Written by  Jonathan Cook

Northwood vs Maritzburg College – cracker of a hockey match in store. The success of the Northwood first hockey team in winning 12 matches from 12 starts is a fantastic achievement and can be put down in large part to the school’s appointment a few years ago of Darryn Gallagher as director of hockey.


mccGallagher, at the young age of 31 (he had his birthday a couple of days ago, I think) or at least an early thirty something anyway, already has a decade’s worth of coaching experience behind him and was a midfielder in the SA team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He earned around 100 Test caps for his country and while he was still in the best form of his career took up coaching. I recall Gally coaching the Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School (GHS) first team – probably about a decade ago – while he player/coached Maritzburg Varsity into becoming the best team in KZN and just about the best team in the country just a few years ago.

As captain of the KZN Inland men in the South African Interprovincial Tournament over a number of years, I think probably one of his greatest frustrations was not leading the team to a national title, 2007 being the closest when the Pietermaritzburg-based province lost by a whisker to perennial champions at the time – Western Province, packed as they were with national players.

But enough of Gally’s credentials – the Northwood hierarchy appointing him the full-time head of hockey at the Durban North school was farsighted indeed and the fruits of his early couple of years at the educational institution is now paying off handsomely.

Northwood beat Hilton College 3-0 on Saturday at Hilton and while I was not there, having opted to watch Maritzburg College take on their brother school down on the Berea, Durban High School (DHS), reports suggest that it was a ding-dong affair played in less-than-ideal conditions.

What with the enormous amount of rain KZN had on Friday and parts of Saturday last week, the WGS versus DHS rugby and hockey was cancelled. By the way, WGS play PMB rivals of long standing, St Charles College, on Pape’s Astro at 4 pm this Wednesday while the WGS first XV tackle DHS firsts on Goldstones at 3.30 pm. See you there.

Getting back to the Northwood/Hilton match, a report suggests that Hilton had their chances early on but couldn’t capitalise, and once Northwood got their high-tempo hockey back on track they got goals through the increasingly impressive Dale van der Merwe - a drag flick - before the talented Matt de Sousa set up Simon du Plessis to score, with Tylo Remke make it three-duck from the penalty stroke spot at the death.

Hilton still had their chances, though, but Northwood keeper Kyle Pillay played a blinder and there was simply no way through the shot-stopper.

This Saturday will provide the acid test for the outstanding Northwood line-up under the astute tutelage of Gally when they host Maritzburg College at the Durban North school. WGS have been a bit up and down this year but underdog status brings out the very best in the Red, Black and White and I foresee a titanic battle for supremacy.

Northwood's goal machine Dale van der Merwe this week mentioned that his team is "currently playing with great belief and that we are running high on confidence. But College is a well structered side with key players so it will be a great match ahead."

It is interesting how the tables have been turned this season in that Northwood have for so many years been on the receiving end of the outstanding College teams coming off the production line at this hockey factory, but this time round the Durban North school have to deal with the pressure of being expected to win, while College have absolutely nothing to lose – and that lessening of the pressure, so evident in the 3-0 defeat to the superb Wynberg side at the recent Nomads Festival at College, and then the loss to PBHS in Pretoria when they had enough chances to win the game despite the 3-0 scoreline, might be the release head coach Guy Elliott’s team need to put on a display in keeping with their potential.

To the Northwood lads, I say watch out for the likes of Tevin Kok up front and a host of other quality players in the defensive line, midfield and among the forwards.

It should be a cracker – and maybe Gally will have reason for quiet satisfaction in putting one over his alma mater.

 Photo: SMUGSHOTS

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