In beginning of the Easter holidays, the Northwood 1st XI travelled to the Founders Festival being hosted by Potch Boys High. The festival was played in excellent sportsmanship from most of the teams there that transferred into some excellent hockey being played. The Northwood Knights took on Queens on day 1 and with Northwood controlling the match, but not closing it out, saw them win it 2-1. Day two was the highlight day of the festival for Northwood as they played two of the Cape’s hockey powerhouses, SACS in the morning and Paul Roos in the evening. The SACS match was a game of two halves where Northwood raced to a 3 goal half time lead after scoring all three in the space of five minutes. SACS pulled a goal back but Northwood maintained the 3-1 lead to the final whistle. The game of the festival for Northwood was definitely against one of the country’s finest teams, Paul Roos. Northwood had a clear game plan to hurt the Paul Roos defence on the counter and by half time were 4-1 up. Paul Roos scored early on in the second half and forced a penalty flicked minutes later that would have made it 4-3, however Taine Bird had other ideas who saved the flick with a diving stick save to his bottom right. After that moment the belief became a reality and Paul Roos struggled to penetrate the Northwood defence and they ran out 4-2 victors. Day three saw two regulatory wins against Dale and Potch (4-0 and 3-0 respectively). On the final day Northwood and Rondebosch faced up, being the only two teams to have won all their matches to that point, the match was set to be a ‘final’. Northwood came out firing and dominated possession and territory and found themselves 1-0 up early on. However an excellent flick from the Rondebosch captain into the hight right corner of the Northwood goal meant at the break it was all square again. The second half was controlled by the boys from Cape Town and a further 3 goals to them and only 1 for Northwood meant they lost the match 2-4.
In the last week of the Easter holidays, the Northwood 1st XI travelled to the KES Festival to play a further 5 matches. On day 1 they played the early match against Johannesburg locals, St John’s. St John’s came out the blocks firing and 45 seconds into the match, Northwood found themselves 1-0 down after a blistering strike in open play from the St John’s left forward. However the Northwood boys used that as a catalyst to ‘wake-up’ and by half time were 3-1 up. The second half was played predominantly between the 23m lines until the last 3 where St John’s scored their second to make the last few minutes very frantic, but no more change in the score took place. Later that afternoon, Northwood played the hard running, physical outfit of Affies. The match was played in good spirit at a hard hitting pace that saw the teams locked at 1-1 at the half way stage. However the second half was an exhibition of hockey from Northwood who didn’t allow Affies to play at all. The game played out to a 3-1 win after one of the goals of the season from a left hand side build up and superb individual finish from Slater Capell left. The Affies keeper was incredible all week and kept the score line down in our match as well. The third match was against a destructive Menlopark team who played to break play down and not allow attacking space. The match was never in doubt after the Northwood third goal but the performance lacked somewhat, but a 3-1 win when not performing is a sign of a good side. After the dip in performance against Menlopark, the Knights then took on the hosts KES. In what was a disciplined performance from both teams, it was a single penalty flick that separated these two proud teams. The final day saw Northwood play the hockey powerhouse of Grey College (Bloem). The match was outstanding, with Grey dominating territory all of the first half and creating the lion’s share of the chances. Grey hit the post on their 1st of two penalty corners to keep the score locked at 0-0, however their second corner with just 2 minutes to the half saw the boys from the Free State take a 1-0 lead at the break. The second half was a role reversal as Northwood changed their structure to counter the high press of Grey and within 2 minutes of the restart scores were level. The Northwood boys then just got stronger and stronger and by the end of the match had a 3-1 lead and a short corner on full time which was mistrapped but it didn’t dampen the fact that Northwood won all 5 of their KES fixtures to go unbeaten as a school for the first time since the 2013 Northwood 1st XI.
In summary over Easter, the Northwood 1st XI played 11 matches, won 10 and lost just the 1 to Rondebosch. They scored 31 goals and only conceded 13. The u16A team also went unbeaten at the u16 Founders Festival, hosted by Kearsney, in their 6 matches, winning 5 and drawing 1 and finally the u14A team also went unbeaten in their 6 matches at the annual Ken Florens Festival hosted at Northwood after winning 4 and drawing 2 of their matches.
On Saturday the 1st XI played a strong Jeppe team in what was always set to be a tight affair. With both teams having been involved in successful KES Festival performances, the match started at an electric pace with Northwood threatening the Jeppe goal first with a well-flicked short corner from captain Ross Venning-Pridham was equally well-saved by Eddie Ramohlale the Jeppe goalkeeper. The match then saw Jeppe finding some passing momentum and created several short corners of their own, which both the corner defence and Taine Bird (Northwood goalkeeper) dispatched of well. The first half played out to a goalless end but the match thus far was from boring. The second half saw both teams up the intensity and determination not to allow the other an easy goal. Jeppe created the first real opportunity from field play, when a through ball was rocketed into the left-hand post without Taine moving an inch. Not long after that near miss, the Northwood goal was breached after a drag flick from Callum Birkenfield took a nasty deflection off a Northwood defender to wrong-foot Taine and flew into the net. From this moment on the game turned and Northwood pushed hard for an equaliser creating the three best chances of the match. The best being after an excellent infield break that saw Thomas King shooting off his reverse to force a save from the advancing Eddie, the ball found its way to an unmarked Cade Leaity who with only a struggling Jeppe defender left on the line blasted the ball wide. Moments later Slater Capell fired a shot over the bar and again missed after he ran the right baseline and failed to find the net after some excellent skill. The last 5 minutes was an exhibition of last ditch defending from Jeppe with a strong push from Northwood to get the scores level. However the clock ran out and Jeppe were victorious. This was one of the best school boy hockey matches I have been privileged enough to have witness and both teams deserve credit for the big shifts they put on display. Well done to Lance Louw (Jeppe 1st XI coach) and his troops!