TVGB clinch Ralph Memorial K.O. Cup

THE Shakaskraal-based TV Gates Boyz (TVGB) outfit clinched the Ralph Reuben memorial Knockout Cup after beating bitter rivals Darnall United 2-1 in an enthralling final, played before a huge crowd at the Stanger High School courts last Thursday night.

Ralph Reuben, a favourite volleyball son of Darnall, died tragically in an accident in June 2010 and his family decided to sponsor a tournament each year to honour his memory.

Eight teams contested the 2018 showpiece, with matches played in two pools on a league basis.

Frendz were overwhelming favourites to finish at the top of pool A but were in for rude awakening after slumping to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manor Old Boys (MOB) in the round robin stages, this despite recording impressive victories against Glenhills Sporting and Heights Volleyball Club.

The heavyweights, comprising of Darnall, TVGB, Sunbrook and Cool Leaders, were grouped together in pool B and the battle to finish at the top proved to be titanic.

TVGB, who beat Darnall (2-1) in the Natdale Insulating Services-sponsored League, proved that their win was no fluke after repeating their feat in the Ralph memorial tournament to finish at the top of pool B ahead of Darnall, who snatched victories against Sunbrook and Cool Leaders. Volleyball pundits expected TVGB and Darnall to meet again in the final after being drawn against MOB and Frendz respectively in the cross-over semi’s. True to form, TVGB easily accounted (2-0) for MOB and Darnall staved off a late challenge by Frendz (2-1) to book their place in the final.

In the playoffs for a podium finish, Frendz avenged their round robin defeat after beating MOB in straights sets to set the stage alight for a mouth-watering final.

Darnall were hyped up for the final, determined to bring that coveted memorial cup to Darnall for the first time since the launch of the tournament.

Boasting a superior height advantage in Nikki Dhaver and Punch Milligan, and a wealth of experience in Alvin Moonsamy, Darnall snatched a dramatic 25-21 victory in the opening set.

Expecting the second set to be a walk in the park, Darnall committed the cardinal sin of replacing Dhaver and Moonsamy at the start of the second set. That ill-fated decision came back to bite Darnall hard after their rivals TVGB were all over them like a bad rash. Even the two regulatory timeouts by manager Samuel Moonsamy failed to turn their fortunes around.

TVGB turned on the heat in the second set, cantering to a 25-20 victory to level the scores at 1-1 to push the game into a third and decisive set. Darnall quickly summoned the changes at the start of the final set and the lads proceeded to fight, tooth and nail .

Despite trailing 11-13, Darnall levelled the scores at 13-13 and survived a match point before man of the match Daniel John sealed a memorable 16-14 victory for TVGB.

The post-mortem for Darnall went late into the night, with so-many “what ifs”thrown around, but the rest is history, with TVGB humbling the sugar-cane lads and silencing their critics.

At the prize-giving ceremony, Isaac Abraham said: “Volleyball is not about one player, but playmaker Daniel John proved to be a perennial thorn in the flesh of the Darnall side, who stood out admirably in attack to guide TVGB to honours”.

He praised the TVGB outfit and thanked the Reuben family for sponsoring the tournament.