There were goals galore in the first round of A Section matches at the SPAR Women’s Inter-Provincial hockey tournament at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria Tuesday.
Three-time defending champions Western Province beat Witwatersrand 13-0, North West accounted for WP Peninsula 6-0 and Southern Gauteng got into double figures in their 10-0 whitewash of KZN Inland, while in the most competitive match of the day, an impressive KZN Coastals Raiders beat host province Northerns Blues 3-0.
The B Section President’s Cup also saw a goalscoring glut; an extremely impressive Eastern Province pushing for promotion back to the A Section SPAR Trophy with a 12-0 drubbing of SA Country Districts, Namibia — here by invitation of the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) – beating Free State 7-0, Southern Cape too good for Boland (5-0) and in the closest B Section clash, Mpumalanga making a statement for promotion with their 3-2 defeat of Northern Cape.
WP, under coach Wayne Denne — a 2004 Athens Olympic Games player for SA — and captain and Beijing Olympian Kate Woods (nee Hector), used the full width of the field to get behind the inexperienced young Wits defence, to devastating effect.
South African captain Marsha Marescia, leading the Southern Gauteng combination that have been losing finalists in the past three IPTs, has Pietie Coetzee back in harness — and her mere presence allowed coach Ryan Millela the pleasure of seeing his less experienced, younger players feed off the former superstar on the world stage to his team’s great benefit.
North West, with the extravagantly talented Lesley-Ann George returning to the provincial team after a year’s break, played some superb hockey against Western Province Peninsula that brought a smile to coach Sheldon Rostron’s face.
North West have a very young side, with the precocious talent of Celia Evans, among others, blossoming under North West University coach Nita van Jaarsveld — and Rostron is adding further value at provincial level.
The talk of the IPT, though, just has to be the impact that twice World Hockey All Stars player Crista Cullen of England and Great Britain has had on seasoned coach Lennie Botha’s KZN Coastals Raiders.
The 24-year-old Cullen, also an England Hockey Athlete of the Year winner, is devastating at penalty corners and a great midfield general who is at
last sparking the best out of a talented Raiders line-up that also includes the quality of 100-plus capped SA striker Jen Wilson, and fellow national
players Cindy Botha and Kelly Madsen.
Coach Gregg Hesom’s Northerns squad are a good combination, but they weren’t allowed to express themselves fully due to the quality of their opposition.
That said, SA defender Kim Hubach and her Pretoria-based team-mates had their moments in attack, and deserved a goal at least.
A Section SPAR Trophy: Western Province 13 Witwatersrand 0; North West 6 WP Peninsula 0; Southern Gauteng 10 KZN Inland 0; KZN Coastals 3 Northerns Blues 0
B Section President’s Cup: Eastern Province 12 SA Country Districts 0; Namibia 7 Free State 0; Southern Cape 5 Boland 0; Mpumalanga 3 Northern Cape 2