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Thrilling curtain-raiser

Free State and Border played a worthy curtain-raiser to Tuesday’s A Section start of the SA Women’s Interprovincial hockey tournament with a thrilling 4-4 draw in the B Section in East London.

Tuesday’s A Section derby between KZN teams Inland and 2009 silver medallists Coastal is expected to be the usually spirited affair and that match is joined by the other Pool B clash between Witwatersrand and Northerns Blues.

In Tuesday’s other A Section matches defending champions Southern Gauteng face last year’s B Section winners Eastern Province while Western Province, bent on regaining their dominance of SA provincial hockey, meet North West.

The Free State-Border match was between teams that are arguably the best in the B Section competition, and they produced moments that would have done the A Section proud.

SA player Marcelle Keet, the Border captain was in stunning form and scored a magnificent hat-trick with a combination exceptionally skilled stickwork in the minimum of space and quick hands in finishing.

Free State produced more shots on goal but although they led from the first whistle until Border finally went ahead 18 minutes to go, the key figure in this absorbing match was Keet.

However, it was Border who came back time and again, but it would have been a travesty of justice if the home province had won this one, and Cardeux Nel’s goal with 20 seconds left that led to the final-score 4-4 was more than deserving for the Bloemfontein side.

All three of the favoured teams to win this title, Southerns, Coastals and WP, have reportedly put in an exceptional amount of training, as have underdogs North West, which augurs well for the rest of the week in the home of some of the most vocal hockey supporters groups in the country.

B Section:
Border 4 Free State 4; Mpumalanga 1 Northern Cape 0; Sasko SA Country Districts A 4 Sasko SA Country Districts B 0; Western Province Peninsula 3 KZN Mynahs 0

A Section ÔÇô Kat Leisure Park:
Northerns vs Witwatersrand; KZN Inland vs KZN Coastal; North West vs Western Province; Eastern Province vs Southern Gauteng
B Section ÔÇô Buffalo Flats unless stated: WP Peninsula vs Sasko SA Country Districts B; Free State vs Namibia; Southern Cape vs KZN Mynahs; Border vs Northern Cape (Kat Leisure Park)
Bye: Sasko SA Country Districts A and Mpumalanga.