Belgotex Elite Club Challenge | Drama sets the tone perfectly
It’s either absence makes the heart grow fonder or out of sight out of mind. Depending which side of the mindset bus you are, your preference may fall one way or the other on this spectrum. For the Belgotex Elite Club Challenge, day 1 reminded us that there really is only one side. The prolonged absence of the premier club tournament in South Africa saw the desire for it to return larger than a crowd waiting to buy Justin Bieber tickets.
Western Province Cricket Club played out a pulsating match against PHBOB as they surged into a three-goal lead, almost like my approach at the buffet on a cruise ship. Of course, much like me at a buffet the challenge is often to continue after the great start, which they struggled to do. South African indoor international Steven Paulo pulled one back before CJ Mashele put tensions at boiling point. Unfortunately for Old Boys it was the Western Cape side that held on for a massive wing on the opening day.
Wanderers got themselves a tidy victory against Kearsney with their combination of big-name stars. Spencer Botes and Kyle Lion Cachet netted twice as the former winners look to win the trophy back from the hosts this year. They may have a tough battle, like my two sons fighting over a toy, Beaulieu also have sights set on lifting the title on Saturday night and opened their own campaign with a belligerent dismissal of new boys Phoenix.
In the headline game of day 1 hosts and defending champions Riverside stormed out to a 4-goal lead before an inspired comeback, reminiscent of when you finally find that missing answer on a Sudoku and then find 5 more in quick succession, but Old Eds took the game to within one. They pulled their keeper off chasing the game, but Riverside were able to add another as they played the counterattack as perfectly as Ludovico Einaudi does on the classic Nuvole Bianche.
With only the top team in each pool going into the final there is no wiggle room or room for error as they all play two games on Friday to decide the finalists for Saturday.
The girl’s tournament saw Western Province Cricket Club and Riverside have a bye in the tournament proper, but they played out an action packed warm up game at Norwood. Both would have been casting glances across to Riverside to see the results of the group opponents.
For Riverside that is defending Champions Crusaders and newcomers from Phoenix. Big things are expected from SA Women’s National and Hockey 5s star Sylvia van Jaarsveldt. She didn’t fail to live up to the expectations of her twice establishing a lead for the champions. But the newcomers twice pulled back through legendary South African Kim Hubach and a second time through Bubbles Pitso. They didn’t settle for pulling level and were triumphant in a superb dismissive victory that made a wonderful statement on opening day.
But like the bonus tracks on a limited-edition cd (for the younger readers, you will have to google what that is), the Belgotex Elite Club Challenge kept bringing the hits. With Wanderers taking on Kearsney for the upper hand in their pool. South African Hockey Legend Kelly Reed and exciting youngster Kelsey Swanepoel gave Kearsney steps in a positive direction. Wanderers pulled a goal back, but they were unable to get the job done. Victory for Kearsney who will now turn their attention to WP Cricket Club.
A full house of 14 games is on tomorrow with almost all of them streamed live on the Supersport Schools App / Website or on the Belgotex Sport Facebook Page. Make sure you tune in to witness the greatest club hockey tournament in South Africa! You can also download the Sportivo app to keep updated on the results.